Get Active, Get Charitable, Eradicate Societal Ills
by Adam Goodwin | 2015 | Last Updated: June 30, 2015
If this is your first time to my blog, welcome! This is my blog. My 5 second elevator pitch about the purpose of my blog: The things that wake me up at 4:00am (okay, sometimes, keep me up until 4:00am). This is the best explanation I can provide.
My Thoughts on a Train
As a “future leader of tomorrow” (what I am told regularly as a graduate student), I try to stay current with environmental, political, and societal developments and news as part of my role as an engaged citizen. There are a few themes in the news I read on a consistent basis: the rise of obesity rates, the increasing use of technological devices that increase sedentary time amongst youth, and an increase in the social isolation of some members of communities.
Since 1992, many regions of Canada have experienced a decrease youth sport participation levels. Many theories have been brought forward. Some argue that television, game consoles (e.g., Nintendo), and smartphones have taken up individuals’ leisure time and thus people have less time to participate in sport (or activities that require physical movement). Others suggest that with a decrease in a welfare state in Canada, and moving to a user-pay model for many leisure and sport activities, some families can no longer afford to pay (or perceive they cannot) the associated registration fees.
Along with the decrease in Canada’s welfare state that may be impacting Canada’s sport registration rates, many charities are facing increasing competition for donations and volunteers. In response, many charities and non-profits have started to organize or partner with sport events. These events provide charities with the opportunity to raise funds while increasing public awareness about both the organization and cause.
These events may not only benefit the organizations though. They can have multiple impacts: Getting people active (e.g., running in the Relay for Life), socializing with peers and family (there is much research to support this) that can strengthen social networks which benefit people in multiple ways (e.g., less feelings of isolation), and getting people engaged in civic activities (i.e., donating to charities to help these organizations support marginalized populations). They also engage people in community events with a variety of individuals registered for the event (e.g., various ages, genders, religions, occupations, class).
Charity sporting events provide a unique opportunity unlike many other charitable fundraisers, or sporting events. They are active (help alleviate physical inactivity). Typically, these events attract a large group of individuals who do not regularly participate in mass sport participation events. Furthermore, they provide a venue to encourage individuals to support the charity (e.g., recruiting friends to donate money or to register in the event itself).
Many families bring their children to the event. These community sport events provide a new opportunity to get their children engaged in community events from a young age. Furthermore, a child’s youth physical activity levels typically predict adult physical activity levels. By getting their kids involved early, these kids are more likely to stay active as kids. This can be have huge health implications. Furthermore, kids who participate in sport and other social activities increase other aspects of their lives (e.g., social capital) – these can have big implications in their futures.
Charity sport events are a growing trend organized by many non-profits and charities across Canada. For the organization, they provide opportunities for the charities to increase awareness and support for the cause. For individuals participating, these events are opportunities to be physically active and to socialize with peers and family members during and through the event. For communities, having hundreds to thousands of citizens engaged in community events can increase capital to host future events and foster a vibrant and strong connections between residents. For businesses, CSEs can be the chance to have employees come together to participate in an event together which will increase team cohesiveness and hopefully result in a more productive workplace.
I will end with this thought. When we (e.g., community leaders, advocates) think of “campaigns” to alleviate an issue we can and should use charity sport events as a model. It is not just a way transaction (e.g., the organization receives a donation from the donor). Charity sport events engage individuals, families, and groups in multiple ways while strengthening communities and helping find solutions for issues that many communities are facing.