We spoke to UniVol volunteer, Lauren Turner, about the phenomenal mahi she achieved in partnership with the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee (CISNOC). 

As Youth and Sports Development Assistant, the objective was to assist with the development and expansion of the Sport 4 Life programmes which promote sports and physical activity to youth. 

VSA volunteers Lauren Turner and Georgia Dobbe

“My key role is creating programmes and sessions in alignment with the Sport 4 Life strategic goals and vision and delivering these to the target participants.” Lauren said in May 2022 when we interviewed her while on assignment.

Lauren was raised in a family where fitness was at the forefront and enjoys staying active in a range of ways from yoga to triathlons.

While Lauren eagerly looks forward to being involved in the upcoming Cook Island Games, a highlight for the entire island, she shares her most recent achievement was creating and running a school holiday programme. This was delivered throughout the Easter school holidays with the goal of providing a fun, safe environment for children to engage in physical activities while promoting healthy-living and well-being. 

“Collaborating with the community, I have realised the amazing, accessible opportunities to get involved with sport in the Cook Islands. I have joined sports clubs and help where I can on a personal level, outside what is required as a CISNOC staff member, purely out of love and gratitude the people behind it.”

Lauren talks more about the assignment and experience in this video, alongside UniVol  Georgia Dobbs and Secretary General CISNOC, Owen Lewis. 

Lauren’s interest in VSA was initially sparked through watching a friend complete an assignment in Timor-Leste and soon led to her embarking on her own volunteer journey.                                                               

“I value the richness and experience that comes from living in other counties.” Lauren says, “I also wanted to practice my learnings from studying towards a Masters in the Sustainable Development Goals at Massey University to see these concepts in action.”

While the assignment presented obstacles like having to adapt quickly when things don’t go as planned, a common occurrence in the Cook Islands, this has only equipped her with vital life-long, transferrable skills such as problem-solving and patience. It’s clear the Cook Islands have earned a special place in Lauren’s life as currently eight months into her ten-month assignment, she’s in the process of extending her stay. 

School children - on the move

When asked if she would consider volunteering again, she says, “In a heartbeat. No matter where in the world I am, volunteering is a way to connect to the people and places that surround you.” 

Read more about the UniVol programme here.