QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 82 - Page 7

new BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing. The new degree bridges the gap between exercise sciences and allied health professions, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Importantly, the new programme incorporates a significant amount of community engagement, with students encouraging people to take part in activity projects across a range of social care, community and third sector organisations. Dr Culpan explained: “Social care providers are looking for suitably qualified professionals to increase opportunities for physical activity across the lifespan. While there are a large number of exercise and science degrees across UK higher education institutions, few have any practical application within the health and social care setting. “We wanted to offer a degree to people interested in working to support the health and wellbeing of others. At the same time, we chose to create opportunities for students who might not traditionally go to university.” Now in its first year, this degree looks beyond the area of health and social care. Dr Culpan explained: “An integral part of the new curriculum is working within our communities. Students will be required to develop projects with groups such as Capability Scotland, Scottish Association for Mental Health and voluntary groups, to incorporate physical activity into the daily life of the community. So, for example, they can help establish walking groups, encourage care homes to build activity programmes into their residents’ daily routines, or work as exercise buddies with people with limited mobility. This type of work helps individuals build confidence to try new activities – ultimately, our overall aim is to support people in our communities to develop physical, mental and social wellbeing.” Dr Culpan continued: “Significant health inequalities exist within our communities and these are based on the inequitable distribution of resources. The evidence shows that overall, poorer people in society have shorter lives. We urgently need to redress the balance by working in partnership. This will ensure people have both better knowledge and understanding of what is required to achieve good health, and the support to make a difference.” Aside from gaining a thorough understanding of theory, the direct work with community groups gives students a practical understanding of other people’s experiences. Dr Culpan explained: “Walking in someone else’s shoes can change their perspective. Armed with this information, students will be guided in developing innovative solutions that can be applied to real life situations – ultimately improving health and wellbeing.” Dr Fiona Coutts, Dean of Health Sciences at QMU, said: “Our new BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Health and Wellbeing aims to provide new opportunities for enthusiastic students, with an interest in physical activity, to make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of local communities. Currently, the course is in its infancy, but in the future, it will equip QMU graduates with the skills and experience to make a real difference to people’s lives.” ❒ QMYOU / Community Engagement 7