By Rick Garrick
Oneida Nation of the Thames’ Chesney Sickles-Jarvis attended the Be A Game Changer workshop at the Toronto 2015 Youth Summit, one of the events leading up to the 2015 Pan-American Games.
“We developed an understanding of how social change is created and achieved, and how to influence positive change,” Sickles-Jarvis says. “This workshop addressed the LGBTQ community and some of the obstacles they face around sport. First we watched a movie about how signage is important in sport facilities, then we participated in a labeling activity, lastly we had some definitions we discussed as a group.“
Held March 21-22 in downtown Toronto, the summit was designed by youth to foster leadership in youth ages 16-24. The summit began with an opening ceremony, which included speeches by the Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer, TO2015 and Waneek Horn-Miller, a Pan Am Games champion in water polo and assistant Chef de Mission for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. About 300 youth from across Ontario attended the summit.
“Sport helps build communities, and this gathering — hosted by TO2015’s Youth Advisory Council — will help create a lasting legacy for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games thanks to the youth delegates and the people they impact in their communities when they return home,” says Bal Gosal, minister of state (sport). “During this Year of Sport in Canada, all Canadians have a role in fostering the love of sport at an early age. It is my hope the young people at this summit will use their leadership and enthusiasm to be an inspiration for us all.”
After the opening ceremony, the youth participated in 12 workshops, including Grant Writing 101, The A to Z of Event Planning and #ThePowerOfAHashtag. In the afternoon, they participated in 13 Community Activations, including creating your very own radio program, food rights and justice (learning about clean water and affordable food for everyone) and Aboriginal storytelling.
Sickles-Jarvis participated in the MLSE Foundation community activation.
“There were kids from the community who signed up and came out and we taught them (basketball skills) at four stations,” says Sickles-Jarvis, a recent Confederation College Recreation Therapy graduate. “The instructors did the warmup with them and then we did the skills portion. It was lots of fun — there were kids who already knew basketball and there were kids who were new to the sport. In our group we had about four who were really good; they said they were playing for their public school team.”
A number of officials spoke to the youth during the summit, including Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors star and TORONTO 2015 global ambassador; Stephanie Dixon, assistant chef de mission for the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games; Rick Hansen, Paralympian and chief executive officer of the Rick Hansen Foundation; and former CFL star football player Pinball Clemons.
“(Clemons) does a lot of community-based activation for strengthening partnerships in Toronto,” Sickles-Jarvis says. “He was my favourite speaker — he was better with the crowd and he did exercises with us that you can do with a huge group of people. He made it more of a tangible experience when he spoke; it was like he had everybody hypnotized.”