An Edge Hill student who has taught swimming since age 16 and made it her mission to make the sport accessible and safe for children across the world is to be awarded a University Scholarship.
“I grew up by the sea so I’ve always been aware of the importance of water safety,” says Katie Munday, a 2nd year Nutrition and Health student. “I developed a real passion for swimming and wanted to help promote swimming as an essential life skill.”
Katie’s first job as a volunteer swimming teacher was with a group of children with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism.
“I’d travelled across the desert with children with learning difficulties as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award so I wasn’t daunted by teaching disabled children at all,” says Katie.
“It was a bit ‘in at the deep end’ but so rewarding. The parents often came with little or no expectations so it was great to be able to show what the children could achieve through swimming. This made me think about the power of swimming as a way of teaching other skills.”
After her A Levels, Katie decided to travel to China to teach swimming. She got a job at a swimming centre in Beijing where she began to develop her ideas for using swimming as a tool to teach English to Chinese children. By the end of her placement, she was team co-ordinator for several schools, kindergartens and swimming centres in Beijing, had written a curriculum for using swimming to teach English and had delivered part of the teacher training manual.
“I really believe that travel is the best education,” says Katie. “I’ve visited 28 countries in three years, and taught swimming in the UK, China and Egypt. I’ve learned so much that I can bring to my teaching and my own education back home.”
Since starting at Edge Hill Katie has managed to juggle academic studies with working and volunteering. As well as teaching children to swim at Edge Hill’s swimming pool, she also works at Park Pool, Ormskirk, where she teaches baby swimming lessons. She also does swim photography and teaches lifeguard skills to children.
Alongside her swim teaching, Katie delivers an outreach programme in primary schools, talking to children about the importance of sport and physical activity.
“I try to focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds or those without confidence, as I’ve found that, through sport, children can often achieve in areas they struggle with in school,” says Katie.
Katie has also thrown herself into University life, supporting students as course rep and acting as Vice-President for the University’s first Nutrition Society.
It is this willingness to give up her time for others that earned her a nomination for the coveted University Scholarship.
“It was a privilege to be nominated,” said Katie. “It can get a bit overwhelming to juggle everything so it makes a real difference to know that my efforts have been noticed.
“I’ve always been an approachable person that tries to help others – I’m the one the crazy person on the bus sits next to! But I don’t mind; I think the more people you meet, the more opportunities open up for you.”
Katie has recently returned from India where she qualified as a yoga instructor, and plans to use her scholarship money to fund more educational trips abroad.
“I’m hoping to eventually do a Masters and then work abroad for a charity that supports underprivileged children,” says Katie. “It’s a great feeling to think that my actions can have a positive impact on people’s lives.”