The USC SEEDS Program plants excellence for para-athletes and their studies
Paralympians of the future will have the chance to excel in both the sporting arena and the classroom when the University of the Sunshine Coast launches a program called the Sports Elite and Education Dual Stream (USC SEEDS) in Semester 2.
The program will enable athletes with a disability to combine tertiary studies with high-performance sports training and coaching at USC's state-of-the-art sports facilities.
USC SEEDS is the first dual para-sport and academic program to be offered at an Australian university and will be managed by USC PhD researcher Bridie Kean, an Australian dual Paralympic medallist and a research scholar at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research.
Ms Kean works alongside USC Professor of Sport Science and Paralympic gold medallist Brendan Burkett, as well as academics from the University's public health and occupational therapy disciplines.
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Ms Kean, who captained Australia to a silver medal in wheelchair basketball at the 2012 London Games, said her own successes in sport and academia were due to participating in an existing program at an American university.
"As an athlete with a disability, I always knew the value of both sport and education in my life," she said.
"It is exciting to work towards expanding these opportunities to our future and current Paralympic athletes in Australia through USC SEEDS.
"The program promotes an environment in which young athletes are encouraged and supported to achieve academic excellence as well as success on the sporting field."
Head of the USC School of Health and Sport Science Professor John Lowe said USC SEEDS would offer a pathway not previously available to Australian para-athletes.
"Providing this kind of opportunity to elite athletes with a disability is an Australian first and I'm extremely proud to see USC taking a leading role in this area," he said.
The opening stages of the program joins USC with Basketball Australia and the QAS Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science Research to start a study pathway for wheelchair basketball athletes.