Conversation Cafe

On 10 December we held our first conversation café outside the downtown core.  Thanks to Argus Machine for hosting!

The topic for the day was the intersectionality of diversity &inclusion and the world of professional sports. We had the following articles/references to help in preparation for the discussion:

We talked about the universal language of sport and how it can be a great leveller when you change the conversation from differences (gender, disability etc.) to ability in the sport itself.  The importance of role models was discussed and we asked “what are the possibilities to help teach everyone through sports?”

We learnt about the Motion Ball initiative in high schools, which provides safe spaces to educate and integrate through social and sporting events in support of the Special Olympics.  We talked about the importance of seeing the ability rather than the disability, which is what Brad’s parents did for him (Made by Brad).

The value of sports for fun rather than for competition was discussed.  Moving away from the need to win at all costs in sports including and celebrating those who aren’t the strongest; how parents are pulling kids from teams that only have the winning focus as the community aspect is more important for them.  One attendee is a coach who has had to speak to other parents, working to change the conversation and explain that winning isn’t his only focus.

We acknowledged that Millenials have the advantage of being raised in an inclusive environment, while older members in society have more relearning to do.  It’s important to embrace this learning rather than use age as an excuse to get away with unacceptable behaviour.  At this point we talked through the Don Cherry situation, where the network have encouraged Don to behave in a certain way as it gets them ratings; however, at the same time this isn’t acceptable and he should have been reined in years ago.

The conversation then moved onto sports in schools, and memories we all have of ‘school yard picks’ – not wanting to be the last chosen to be in a team and the potential damage that can do to a child as the weakest is usually left to the last if we follow the culture of winning. Does this action have a long term impact on a person’s life?  A participant shared that they had recently had an employee engagement event where they asked attendees to get into teams themselves, which she wondered could have had the same impact.

We touched on a grassroots program (www.u-b-u.ca) which provides programming on explaining the strong connection of mind and body and how we need to nuture both, from a mixed and girl-specific approach

That led us to finish with discussions on childhood and intergenerational trauma and how we can accommodate people in the workplace, the importance of understanding mental health and looking at the individual when each situation arises.  The goal being to set people up for success where we can; acknowledging we also have a business to run and it’s a balancing act.  Will employees tell us the circumstances they need to be the best employee they can be?

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