Horsham teen’s gap year to help children in Fiji

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A Horsham teenager is setting off on a trip of a lifetime as a youth and sports volunteer with children in Fiji.

Heather McColl, 17, will spend five weeks coaching children aged three to 15 in a variety of sports and extra-curricular activities, as part of a long-term plan of sustainable youth and sports development in Fiji’s poorest communities.

Heather McColl, 17, who is fundraising for a gap year project in Fiji with the charity ThinkPacific - picture contributed

Heather McColl, 17, who is fundraising for a gap year project in Fiji with the charity ThinkPacific - picture contributed

She will stay with a local Fijian family during her stay, giving her the chance to fully experience Fijian life, culture and customs.

But the whole experience is self-funded and she is raising money to enable her to fulfil her dream.

She is organising cake sales and auctions in the months leading up to the trip.

Heather said: “I have decided that I don’t think that I am quite ready for university yet, so I’ve opted to go on a gap year.

“However my gap year is slightly different to most students, with the fact that I don’t want to go on a drinking binge in places like Zante.

“I would much rather be doing something productive and helpful.”

The expedition, which is organised by the charity ThinkPacific, offers the children of Fiji their first taste of organised sport, by bringing volunteers with a strong sporting record to teach and support the development and provision of sport across the island. In addition, other lessons including maths, science and English will be taught to pupils.

Often children will trek several miles to be involved in a sports session, so bringing the sessions straight to their doorstep is drawing a lot of attention.

Heather will set off on her birthday, July 20, and returns on the August 25.

During her time in Fiji she will not only be working with children in sports lessons and other academic areas, but also taking part in community construction projects in the village, such as building accommodation.

The charity promises the days will be long and tiring, waking up at 6am to be at the school for 7:30am, finishing lessons at 3pm. Heather will then be involved in providing any after school clubs and activities, followed by working in the communities until around 8pm.

By volunteering for this expedition Heather has the opportunity to learn about a different culture while helping the community in which she will be living.

As well as her fundraising activities, she has set up a donation page which is www.gofundme.com/fijivolunteering.

Anyone who would like to support her can donate there or email her at heather.mccoll.97@live.co.uk

For more information about the trip and the charity ThinkPacific go to www.thinkpacific.com