GURLS Program
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GURLS Program

Year 2 GURLS 2020 Project

By Ada Rauber, Goodness Nwakudu, Gabriella Lerman, Lianna van Hout, and Sushma Delaney Johnson

GURLS Year 2 — warming up with some opening activities before diving into project work!

For our fall 2020 Year 2 GURLS project, we made a Workshop Guide with the goal of supporting high school teams in discussing barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion within their own programs.

Why did we decide to focus on this topic?

The biggest reason why we decided to focus on this topic is that there are very clear diversity, equity and inclusion issues in the ultimate community that are largely undiscussed. There is some attention paid to gender equity issues, but not enough paid to issues regarding race and inclusion. Especially in light of recent racial tensions and racial activism, we felt it was important to draw more focus to this issue.

Our Process

We started by interviewing high school players of color to understand their experiences as players of color in ultimate. Also during our research phase, we read articles about experiences of players of color from various sources, including Ultiworld and Color of Ultimate articles. One key insight that we learned from the interviews and research was that by having more diversity and representation, it could potentially help other players of color feel more comfortable joining ultimate and could also help denounce the stereotype of ultimate as a white college male sport. We used what we learned to create a google slides discussion guide. We workshopped our discussion guide with a facilitator from the racial equity and inclusion organization, Both/And, to ensure we were using open-ended questions, being conscious of different people’s experiences, and focusing on both equity and inclusion in addition to diversity. Throughout the whole process, we did a lot of revision.

Challenges

As a mixed-race project group, it was an interesting challenge to navigate talking about race, which can be a difficult or uncomfortable topic, especially since most of us had never been in race discussions before. We also struggled with creating questions that were sufficiently direct, but also didn’t assume people’s experiences, as we wanted to have open-ended discussion questions. Another big challenge for our group was biting off more than we could chew. We were ambitious, and ended up having to scale down in order to produce quality work within our timeframe. We decided to shift our focus to setting up a strong foundation for a productive discussion group, which could be held by future GURLS participants.

The slides we produced include information about varying levels of barriers, as well as discussion prompts for both full-group and affinity group discussions. Affinity group discussion is a useful tool because it provides a safe space in which people who have similar identities can share their experiences without the pressure of being in the full group. The slides are intended to help guide teams through these discussions, as this can be a difficult or uncomfortable topic. Future GURLS participants can utilize these slides as a starting point to further this discussion.

Lessons Learned

We learned that it is important to understand that there is a long way to go, but our goals are definitely possible. Our work is a good starting point. These changes in systemic issues do not happen overnight and being patient and taking the time to provide a solution is important. We also learned that it is important not to let fear of saying the wrong thing prevent us from having these discussions. In discussions it is important to speak up even if you think you may be wrong, because saying something wrong and having it corrected can help your other teammates who thought the same way. Making mistakes also shows that the person is making an effort to push the limits of their comfort zone.

To learn more about our project, please check out our Workshop Guide.

To learn more about the Girls Ultimate Revolution Leadership (GURLS) Program please visit our website, Facebook or Instagram. If you or someone you know is interested in being part of the GURLS Program, please apply here!

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GURLS seeks to address and disrupt a lack of inclusivity and support of girlx athletes by creating the next generation of strong, lifelong leaders who strive to give back to their community, empower other girlx, and fight to create positive change for all.

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