Heidi Dening and Bryan Holiday at the opening of the Jump Start Outdoor Training new fitness facility in Cammeray
20 October 2011
Running up Literacy Level in Vanuatu
CAMMERAY: The annual Round Island Relay in Vanuatu is one of the world’s most “phenomenally unique” runs but only a handful of people know of it, a North Sydney fitness instructor says.
Heidi Dening, who founded Jump Start Outdoor Training in Cammeray in 1997, has participated in the relay since 2001.
The event, which sees teams of 10 runners race around the main island of Efate, was first staged in 1980 to celebrate Vanuatu’s independence from Britain and France.
Ms Dening said divine scenery, friendly locals and challenging legs made the 138km run “extra special”.
“You’ve got Vanuatans running barefoot over coral, barely taking a breath, competing with teams fully kitted out in sports gear who can hardly make it to the end,” Ms Dening said. “It’s phenomenally unique.”
Inspired by the relay, Ms Dening set up the Jump Start Foundation last year to raise funds to improve the literacy levels of children in remote areas of the island. The foundation has sent more than 1300kg of pre-loved books to Vanuatu and this year aims to build a library for a primary school in Tafea province, on the island of Tanna.
Ms Dening, who spent her early years as a high school physical education teacher in Vanautu, said a recent test
showed only seven per cent of five to seven-year-olds living in the archipelago were literate.
"It’s sad because if you can’t read, you can’t learn - many schools lack resources and facilities,’’ she said. “It is an exciting project - we expect the first library will be completed in July 2012,” Ms Dening said.
This month, at the opening of her new fitness facility in Cammeray, guests raised more than $7000 for the library project. There will also be a Monster Garage Sale on Saturday, October 29, on Grafton St in Cammeray.
HEALTH 10 OCT 11 @ 09:00AM BY EMMA PAGE
Running up literacy levels - Health - News - Mosman Daily 10/11/11 12:34 PM