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by Louroz Mercader, President – Mississauga Youth Games
On June 19, 2012, Mississauga Youth Games (MY Games) was invited to present at the Sport 4 Development annual gathering in Montebello, Quebec. This was an exciting opportunity to share best practices with senior sport and government officials from across the country on how to engage diverse communities through the power of sports.
MY Games has successfully used the following five “playbook” tips to reach newcomers:
The MY Games staff and board reflect the communities we serve. As a result of our diversity, our program delivery is culturally sensitive, and we are able to recruit “unlikely” candidates to volunteer for the Games. MY Games uses the DiverseCity onBoard program to connect with qualified candidates when seeking new board members.
The biggest barriers to participation in any program are financial and transportation-related. MY Games delivers all its programming free of charge, and is located within walking distance or along major transit routes.
MY Games relies on 100 coaches and volunteers to help deliver our programs. Providing meaningful leadership training, while allowing for flexibility with various times and roles, are keys to engaging a diverse base of volunteers.
Every effort is made to ensure that programming does not conflict with cultural ceremonies and holidays. A safe space is also provided to participants and volunteers to allow for quiet reflection. Respecting dietary restrictions helps to ensure a variety of needs are met.
The generations of young athletes, coaches, parents and volunteers throughout our community will see their lives enriched by the positive lessons, values and choices they make through sport. It is important that we, as partners, come together and work collaboratively to ensure sport is accessible for everyone.
Founded in 2006, MY Games is a grassroots organization that has provided 1,500 young people with free arts, sports and leadership programs in Mississauga’s underserviced neighbourhoods.
The 7th Annual MY Games takes place September 29 – 30, 2012. Visit www.MississaugaYouthGames.com for more information.