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Schools invited to work with athlete ambassadors to solve problems nationally

19 February 2024

Seventeen high performance athletes from across Australia are preparing for a big year of sporting commitments and school visits, after being appointed as ambassadors for The Good Village Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Problem Solvers Program.

Athlete ambassador posing with a class of primary school children.
Schools can apply to have an AIS athlete ambassador visit their classrooms to help deliver a project focused on health and wellbeing as part of The Good Village Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Problem Solvers Program. Pictured: Diver Olivia O'Rourke at St Mary's School Merredin in Western Australia.

Over the next ten months, the AIS athlete ambassadors, including hockey player Edwina Bone, swimmer Harrison Biddell, rower Sarah Hawe and wheelchair rugby player Shae Graham, will visit primary schools across the country to help students deliver a project focused on health and wellbeing.

ParaMatildas Co-captain Carly Salmon said she’s honoured to help young people foster a love of health and problem-solving skills.

“The program encapsulates my passion for health and working with children. Sport has had a profoundly positive impact on my life, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to showcase the benefits of physical activity, whilst enhancing student’s problem-solving skills throughout this program,” Salmon said.

Designed in partnership with Nestlé, the free program teaches students what it takes to create a healthy, supportive and sustainable village of people while unpacking a challenge in Australian sport.

Schools can apply to have an AIS Athlete ambassador deliver two virtual or in-person sessions that weave in lessons in science, humanities, arts and economics, while exposing students to a range of different sports.

Former Para-alpine skier Victoria Pendergast said being an athlete ambassador gives her the opportunity to share her experience in sport and encourage the younger generation to have a go.

“Sport has a huge number of benefits and provides endless opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to experience throughout my career. I’m excited to teach students the power of inclusivity, accessibility, perseverance and so much more, in a way that’s fun for kids.”

The AIS athlete ambassadors are available to schools nationwide, including in regional areas, which resonated with Hockeyroos defender Penny Squibb.

“Being from a small country town, I always loved having athletes visit, so I’m grateful to be in this position to help deliver this program as an athlete and give back and inspire students to be creative, keep learning and develop new skills,” Squibb said.

Australian race walker Rhydian Cowley said he’s looking forward to watching the natural creativity of students throughout the program.

“Giving back to the community and supporting the next generation is really important to me. I’m excited to work with students to build their confidence and skills to solve the problems of today and tomorrow.”

Schools interested in participating in the program throughout 2024 are encouraged to apply on the Good Village AIS Problem Solvers Program webpage.

2024 ambassadors

  • Victoria Pendergast (Snow Australia)
  • Rhydian Cowley (Athletics Australia)
  • Tamieka Whitefield (Softball Australia)
  • Emily Meaney (Diving Australia)
  • Carly Salmon (Football Australia)
  • Zana Evans (Snow Australia)
  • Harrison Biddell (Swimming Australia)
  • Lucy Coleman (Rowing Australia)
  • Ria Thompson (Rowing Australia)
  • Katerina Paul (Snow Australia)
  • Caitlin Bettenay (Volleyball Australia)
  • Edwina Bone (Hockey Australia)
  • Olivia O’Rourke (Diving Australia)
  • Penny Squibb (Hockey Australia)
  • Sarah Hawe (Rowing Australia)
  • Shae Graham (Wheelchair Rugby)
  • Yale Steinepreis (Paddle Australia)
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