As the 2022 Winter Olympics kicks off, we’re reminded again of the power of sports to change narratives and influence culture on a national and global level. The Olympics is just the most recent example of this; sport plays a crucial role in shaping larger narratives and shifting culture and cannot be extracted from shifts in society at large.
Here are some recent examples in the headlines:
Athletes using the platform that sports provides to push social narratives:
- WNBA dedicates 2020 season to social justice efforts
- How ‘The Kaepernick Effect’ has propelled a new generation of athletes to take a stand against racial injustice
- ‘Sport is political.’ How athletes are keeping human rights center stage at the Olympics
Individuals who take the benefits that sport provides to overcome obstacles or traumatic experiences:
- Veterans with PTSD turn to sports, physical activity as alternative method of treatment
- Building Resilience Through Sport in Young People With Adverse Childhood Experiences
Sport and sports facilities are the battlegrounds for anti-trans legislation in multiple states:
At the Center for Healing and Justice through Sport, our core will always be who makes up our team and the work we do with organizations providing direct service to youth across the country (and the globe!). It is with these people in mind that we embarked on a new journey to address issues beyond the individual level. During our launch, we announced an additional effort focused on systemic change, what we’re calling “movement building.” The heart and soul of CHJS has always been and continues to be our work training and consulting coaches and programs, and movement building take into account that these coaches and programs work inside larger, often oppressive, systems. Through movement building, we intend to call out, push on, and work to change those systems.
The Agenda to Transform Youth Sport outlines the platform for this work as well as represents what we see as an opportunity to center the voices that matter the most: direct service healing-centered youth sports programs.
Over the last several months, a draft of this document was put in front of Sports Based Youth Development leaders, direct-service providers, coaches, and leaders at club teams across the country. The current draft represents their collective input, as well as the shared knowledge from the entire CHJS team.
This is an agenda that brings to bear the reality of organizations working at a local level to maximize the developmental benefits of sport while also targeting the systems that impact them and their participants. It is meant to represent the wide breadth of work that is needed to modernize the movement for healing-centered sport into the future, bring new organizations and resources to the work, and ultimately ensure more communities, coaches, and youth heal and thrive.
We intend to use this document to push for accountability, change, and innovation at all levels of the youth sports field. Much of our work already does that, through training and consulting and now, movement Building. We also intend to position this document to be valuable to others in the field. We see this as a tool to highlight work that is already happening and to legitimize healing-centered work wherever it might be happening.
There is much more to come on this. Systemic change takes time and intention and accountability, and we’re committed to all of that. This Agenda simply puts to words what we’ve been doing, what we intend to prioritize in the future, and what we think needs to happen for the youth sports field at large to become more healing-centered.
In the meantime, feel free to contact us with thoughts or feedback.
Download the Agenda today and let us know what you think on our social media channels @CHJSorg.