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Former pupil of Dorset school inspires Nepalese children

An inspirational project to encourage young children in remote areas of Nepal to enjoy sport and running exercises has culminated with a showcase athletics event in a regional stadium involving 250 pupils from seven schools in remote areas of the country.

Developed and delivered by Emily Shaw (18), a former pupil of Bryanston School near Blandford, the Right2Run project has proved to be a great success and has led to a further extension of the programme in 2023 with the involvement of six additional schools.

A former English Schools 3000m Champion and England international cross-country runner, Emily used her gap-year and her passion for running to develop the Right2Run project in collaboration with Right4Children, a charity that works to improve the lives and living standards of disadvantaged Nepalese children and their families.

The project has provided direct support to pupils at remote government schools and has led to the introduction of weekly running sessions covering teamwork skills, running drills and fun games. Feedback from the children, their teachers and their parents has exceeded all expectations, with everyone acknowledging the mental and physical benefits of including sport in the daily routine of each child.

“I know from my own personal experience that a morning running session can change one’s day and help to increase energy and concentration for the day ahead,” says Emily. “And that’s exactly what the children involved in Right2Run have said to us. I’ve learnt so much over the past four months and I’ve really enjoyed working with the young athletes. Getting up when it’s pitch dark and freezing cold at 5:30 in the morning has not proved to be a problem for them. After some warm up games, they then run a few laps around the village before sitting their school exams later that morning!

“There are many socio-cultural barriers for youngsters to cross in order to participate in sport. This is especially true for young girls. My hope is that the Right2Run project will continue to help pupils overcome these barriers and that they will use the skills gained from their sporting endeavours to break away from the cycle of poverty”.

The inter-school Right2Run competition held at the Rangasala Stadium in Pokhara was the highlight of the project. This day of races was an experience for the young athletes and their parents and showed how a sport like running can provide new opportunities rather than be a distraction from academic studies. Emily secured the active participation of Mira Rai, an international and award-winning trail runner, as guest of honour for the event who also helped to start the races and present the winning children with their prizes. She has also agreed to remain involved with the expanded Right2Run programme through 2023.

“I am truly in awe of Emily’s infectious enthusiasm and commitment to the Right2Run project,” says Douglas Maclagan, co-founder of the Right4Children charity. “She has achieved so much in just a few short months and has certainly put smiles on so many young faces. She has shown how sport and active exercise is not only enjoyable but can also raise motivation levels for children, which is so important in helping them to make the most of their lives at school and lifting them out of the poverty cycle. Emily has definitely stamped her mark during her time in Nepal and I know that so many teachers and rural families recognise what a tremendous difference she has made.”

“This project could not have been possible without the invaluable support of donors who supported our fundraising drive to provide the children with their own pair of running shoes,” adds Emily. “Working closely with Nepalese shoe brand, Goldstar, we have been able to provide 190 children with proper footwear for running and training rather than them relying on their well-worn sandals.This is particularly important as the programme expands and includes a new focus on trail running, thanks to Mira Rai’s continuing support.”

The Right2Run programme developed and delivered by Emily Shaw has proved to be a great success.

Emily Shaw (right) with Maya, a pupil from one of the most remote schools who was the winner of the 800m at the inter-school competition at the Rangasala stadium