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New EIT degree based on community health needs

December 18, 2018

Nicola Woods with the results of her final year project – a healthy eating cookbook produced for those with Type 2 Diabetes. Project-based learning will be the emphasis of the new Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science being introduced by EIT in 2019.

EIT’s latest degree offering received an enthusiastic reception from the NZQA board responsible for approving it.

The Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science commences in the first semester of 2019 and replaces the Bachelor of Recreation and Sport the institute has offered since 2002.

The new degree was informed by extensive community consultation and it was this that earned the praise of the NZQA board.

Over the past two years, Kirsten Westwood, EIT Health and Sport Science head of school and her team of 12 met with students, graduates, high schools, the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, community organisations, Iron Māori, Sport Hawke’s Bay, and health and fitness providers.

“We really listened to what they had to say and developed a degree that is responsive to not just what our students’ need but what the community needs too,” says Kirsten.

“We’ve rethought our whole teaching approach. We no longer teach subjects in silos. Instead we’ve flipped to real world project-based learning.”

Previously EIT recreation and sport students only undertook an industry placement project in their final year. Now the degree students will integrate theory and practical skills in different sport, health, and exercise science community-based projects in each semester of their study.

“Our aim is for strong community connectedness. We want to inspire our students to success and develop leaders for the future.

“With the values of Māutauranga, Whanaungatanga, Manaaki and Motuhenga woven through the programme, students will develop and refine the soft skills that employers are looking for – communication, self-management, team work, cultural competence – these aspects along with content knowledge, all help make our graduates work ready.”

It was probable that EIT students would work closely with Sport Hawke’s Bay on its many health and wellbeing initiatives. There is already a relationship in place between the two organisations and this was going to be strengthened, Kirsten expects.

Nicola Woods was one of the 2018 Bachelor of Recreation and Sport graduates that undertook a project in this, her final year. She thoroughly enjoyed it and is proud of what she achieved.

Working with the Green Prescription team at Sport Hawke’s Bay, Nicola has developed a cookbook geared to healthy eating for those with Type 2 diabetes. She helped run a five-week cooking programme around the cookbook for up to a dozen Green Prescription participants.

As a New Zealand representative body builder and personal trainer, Nicola has a good understanding of nutrition and creates interesting meals to fit in with her six meals a day regime when she’s training. She utilised this knowledge to prepare and share the healthy yet simple recipes featured.

She also styled the food and took most of the photographs herself. “It was cool to see people taking pride in making the meals look like mine in the photos,” Nicola says.

With funding from Health Hawke’s Bay and support from Sport Hawke’s Bay, Nicola has been thrilled to have tangible proof that her interest in nutrition is one she still feels passionate about.

So much so that after a year’s break from study, she will pick post-graduate study in nutrition and teaching. That’s after she completes summer papers in marketing and online business. All in readiness for her future career with a nutrition focus.