THE UNIFYING POWER OF SPORTS TO IMPROVE COMMUNITY & RACE RELATIONS
On the heels of the World Cup where billions of people around the world came together from a multitude of diverse communities, we all witnessed the unifying power of sport.
The World Cup temporarily bridged a gap and inter-connected us all regardless of our socio-economic background, race, culture or political affiliations.
“Sport affords us the opportunity to open up conversations that are divisive.”
One shining example is the “RISE TO WIN” project, that I just discovered yesterday, July 17, 2018.
So what does RISE TO WIN do exactly?
RISE TO WIN organizes events to build unity and trust among a diverse group of kids, and local law enforcement officers.
The events begin with getting to know each other sessions, with kids from a bunch of different schools, that they would not normally engage with, and creating the space, providing the opportunity to engage with others from several communities.
From there they go into activities that require them to work together as a team along with a police officer. For many of the kids it is the first time that they see officers in a different light, from another perspective. Subsequently it creates an opportunity for the police officers to also see the kids in the community from another perspective.
“I think it is huge, because the kids get to see me and know me as Darren, not officer Davis. “I watched kids interact with police officers and I know they had never done that before” — Patrol officer, Daren Davis, Edina Police Department.
The kids learn how to co-operate with, and trust others whom they do not know, and how you can do better in life through trusting each other.
Communication is one of the keys. Several of the discussions during the events led to the officers, and the kids realizing that establishing and building trust is a team effort, combined with the willingness to listen, to learn, to speak, and to be open.
One of the prevailing questions during the event was, how can we create unity? With the discovery by all, that unity is built on a foundation of respect.
Sport is one of the effective tools to spread the message of unity, and co-operation, that can be truly beneficial to police officers, and the local communities that they swear to serve and protect.
The message that RISE works to effectively get across is that “We are all in the same game, we are all playing on the same field, and we all need to be trying to score that winning goal, and that goal is to be successful, as well as to establish and cultivate trustful relationships built on respect for each other” — Christopher Hill.
On Jan 31st, 2018 RISE joined a variety of organizations in Minnesota for the American Heroes National Launch & Youth Football Celebration leading up to Super Bowl LII, and uniting youth and law enforcement.
The Jack Brewer Foundation (JBF Worldwide), in partnership with the NFL, Minnesota Vikings, National Association of Police Athletic/Activities Leagues (NPAL), Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and Sanneh Foundation launched the national program uniting youth and the police through the power of sports and education.
The event was held at the West St. Paul Regional Athletic Center. The American Heroes Program is an initiative founded by NPAL Ambassador/Spokesperson and former NFL player Jack Brewer that is part of JBF Worldwide’s “Trust 2 Protect” campaign, which aims to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
The program promotes empowerment and engagement, providing youth the opportunity to gain leadership and football skills while discussing community challenges and potential solutions to them with local leaders and law enforcement. The January launch featured invited youth from the Twin Cities area, local police officers, current and former NFL players and community leaders.
Youth, law enforcement and professional athletes participated together in football drills facilitated by the Vikings and educational programming developed and led by RISE on the topics of teamwork, trust and community building. They then participated in a group discussion to identify actionable steps that can be taken to strengthen and unify their community. (Source: American Heroes National Launch, YouTube).
For more information on RISE TO WIN visit: http://www.risetowin.org