Bystander Intervention Conference, End of Coop and Other Musings

What a difference six months makes.

Around this time back in January, the five other coops and myself were just getting acclimated with the culture here at Sport in Society (SIS).  Sure, we knew our work would be related to social justice and would have an impact, both directly and indirectly, on those in need, but we were far from being well-versed in the specifics of SIS’s mission.

One of the most profound concepts I have learned while on coop has been the bystander approach to intervening in potentially violent or sticky situations.

Immediately we were taught this model during our first week of orientation at the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Train the Trainers Institute back in January.  Here we learned all about the bystander approach and how there are hundreds of other options other to choose from in order to intervene during a bad situation rather than directly getting involved or doing nothing at all.

It seems fitting that in one of our last events here, we would celebrate this amazing concept that has literally gone world wide.

A few weeks ago, the first ever Bystander Intervention Conference was held here at Northeastern University, bringing together advocates of the bystander approach from across the globe.  While mainly working behind the scenes of the event, I was still able to grasp the importance of the conference and how men and women from as far as Hawaii to Sweden are taking a stand against violence.

I had no idea how much of an impact the MVP model has had on the lives of others nor was I aware of the amazing work that others are doing with this approach.  For two days, I was privileged to hear from pioneers such as Richard Lapchick and others who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact on our society.

One of the most interesting parts of the conference was seeing how the MVP model, created not even two decades ago by Dr. Jackson Katz, is still evolving.  Facilitators around the country are using this fantastic base to build their own programs to meet the needs of their communities.  And as the world increasingly becomes more dependent on social media, it was great to see how the bystander approach translates to the digital mediums as well.

With just two weeks left on coop, I plan on taking this model with me as I go and spreading the bystander approach when the opportunities present themselves.  If working at SIS has taught me anything, it’s that one person can make a difference and that there is never an excuse to sit on the sidelines.