A special final spurt

Every year, students in Breda work on City Deal projects of the municipality. Lieke van Dommelen is one of the students who have worked on a side event to add an extra dimension to the NK Atletiek event – taking place at SPRINT in Breda this year. 

“It’s comparable to doing hurdles; due to the special situation around corona, we had to rethink our plans time and time again. Of course, it was a hard pill to swallow for me when I heard the news that our event could not take place, but I’ve learned a lot from it. Our team is highly motivated and we are going to reach the finish line anyhow!”

Lieke studies Leisure & Events at BUas. Together with four students from other education institutes, she thought up and worked out the Students Back Together event, which had been commissioned by athletics club SPRINT in Breda. It is one of the City Deal projects that the municipality of Breda – in cooperation with education institutes in Breda – carries out to engage young people in vitality issues of this city.

In my role as project leader, I got the ultimate chance to discover whether I am the event manager I want to be

Lieke van Dommelen, Leisure & Events student

Students Back Together

The concept of Students Back Together is based on the Olympic Games, and consists of a track of various athletics components. The idea is that students run this track through the city centre of Breda in order to eventually finish at the athletics fields of SPRINT.

“The idea came up in the minor Experience Design & Innovation, which I attended at BUas and in which I worked on an experience concept for SPRINT together with other students,” says Lieke. “That I could work it out for City Deal together with other schools was just a wonderful opportunity. In this way, it could be developed into something much bigger!”

Diversity and inclusiveness

Lieke cooperates in the project with Tim Verstappen and Démy van den Beemt, who both study Physiotherapy at Avans University of Applied Sciences. Kevin van Ham also participates; he is a student of Management at the AD Academy in Roosendaal. Hanae Akkar, who studies Sport & Recreatie at Curio in Breda, is also a member of the project group. This list evidently shows an enormous diversity, and that is exactly what the City Deal projects are all about. Diversity and inclusiveness. Learning from each other.

Do what you are good at     

“This very mix of students makes it so worthwhile,” Lieke continues, “because everyone brings in different knowledge and experience. A lot of theory is brought together by exchanging books and models, but we also take a hands-on approach. The physiotherapists in training, for example came up with an idea for doing a warming-up activity by playing the Kinderen voor Kinderen song Dansen is Gezond to strengthen the group feeling, and Hanae was responsible for the health check and handing out healthy energizers.”

Kevin from the AD Academy is also enthusiastic. “Normally, you work in a project group within your own study programme and you all have the same focus and background in terms of knowledge. For this project, students have been brought together who all attend different degree programmes, and so, all of them have different qualities. In this way, everyone can do what he or she is good at.”

Watching people do sports makes them do sports

And that is exactly what the concept of Students Back Together - all of us are good at something - is all about. “The idea is actually that anyone can deliver a performance, and with this event, we want to provide young people with this experience,” explains Lieke. “And we reward them with a personal invitation to NK Atletiek and a wonderful medal. Bringing visibility to the city of Breda is an important criterion for us as a project group because watching people do sports makes them do sports. But this very element has killed our idea. Because this activity is carried out by people moving through the city centre, it is considered an event, and therefore, we cannot eventually implement it - within the corona measures – as we thought it up.

Switching and rethinking

But Lieke’s team were not easily deterred by these setbacks, and came up with an alternative, meaning that students were not going to compete with each other in the city centre, but at SPRINT. “This very switching and rethinking has made this project very special to me. In my role as project leader, I got the ultimate chance to discover whether I am the event manager I want to be. All my team members are very motivated to complete the project successfully. Unfortunately, we were informed on 7 May that the Students Back Together event cannot take place at the SPRINT location either. Fortunately, the NK Atletiek event will take place in an altered form, although two out of four side events have been cancelled. We are currently working on a final product that SPRINT could organise in the future: a substantiated experience concept, complete with a detailed roadmap.”

The city as a learning community

In total, four side events have been planned as a City Deal project around the NK Atletiek. Unfortunately, an event targeted at the elderly at the SPRINT location had to be cancelled as well, but the other two events, in primary schools and in Valkenbergpark, are still ready to be executed. Lars Davids of the programme in Leisure & Events at BUas is one of the coordinators of the City Deal projects.

“All projects have a social character, and aim to engage the residents of Breda in NK Atletiek, and in doing so, put the theme vitality on the map,” says Lars. “Sports connects, and in cooperation with the municipality of Breda and other partners, such as the Sportleerbedrijf Breda the city will be one big learning community. Not only for students, but for everyone.”

Broadening knowledge   

“For students, such a City Deal project is a wonderful opportunity to familiarise themselves with other education institutes, and in this way, broaden their knowledge,” stresses Lars. “Lieke joined the project in her last year of study and had already completed her minor, but there are also students who engage in such a City Deal project sooner, for example as a work placement. By taking part in such a project, they learn to cross the boundaries of their own degree programme. They experience that these crossovers work, and that, in turn, encourages them to think from a broader perspective – perhaps even to choose a broadening minor and we love to see these collateral benefits!”