Fall Co-op Thus Far

After being here at Sport in Society for about a month know, I already know that the next 5 months of my co-op are going to be full of fun activities and events that I never thought I would have the chance to be a part of. The staff here is always energetic, kind, always makes me laugh and feel comfortable, and I am constantly learning new things from each one of them every day. I haven’t had the opportunity to facilitate a training yet, but I hope that in the upcoming months that will change. I’ve been able to watch a few trainings, and I even took part of the MVP training in June, and I know that I’ll be ready to go when the time comes, or at least I better be!

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on my own project for this semester, and I am so happy that things are finally starting to come together. I had the idea that I would like to begin a conversation about LGBT athletes with the Northeastern Community. With Jason Collins coming out as a gay NBA player and DOMA being declared as unconstitutional, it seems like the perfect time. I personally experienced a time where an athlete was afraid to come out to the rest of their team because they were afraid of what they might say or think of them. With all the research that I have done about this topic, over 95% of all LGBT athletes said that they wished they had someone to look up to that would have told them that the coming out experience isn’t that hard, because then they would have done it sooner. I’m particularly interested in this topic because I am currently a Northeastern athlete and I know how the culture can be and have seen first had how much of a struggle it can be. I hope to start getting deeper in this planning so it can happen very soon!!

My Experiences Facilitating

I’ve been at Sport in Society for just about a month now, as a Co-op intern. Prior to even joining the team, I was required to go to something called an MVP Institute. It was in the middle of Summer, so needless to say I wasn’t very excited to commute in three days in the middle of the week for something I didn’t have much interest in. The week prior to MVP, I was kicking and screaming, complaining to whoever would listen, about how I did not want to go, I would rather sleep until 2 pm and then play video games, or watch a movie.

I just have to say, life has a funny way of changing your mind.

I stepped into MVP and I felt very out of place. A lot of older professionals were sitting around a table drinking coffee and talking about where they worked, and here I was having not even started my internship. Fast forward to when the actual facilitating began, and I was so struck at how fluid the two Co-facilitators worked, and how genuine and sincere they were. They wanted to be there, and I could feel it, and I slowly began to understand what Sport in Society was about. By the third and final day, I was happy to come in and see these men and women that were going on this short but life changing journey with. On the final day was my first experience co-facilitating. I was nervous, but the Men’s Break out room supported me greatly, and so did my co-facilitator.

I didn’t know what I would be doing with this “certification” until I came to Sport in Society this past July, but I definitely saw it as a useful tool to get people to think critically. I think it boils down to this statement: People will come to understand more fully, if they come to that conclusion themselves, more so than if someone tells them to come to that conclusion. (Don’t quote me on this).

Second came the Bullying Prevention Institute. I didn’t co-facilitate or anything at this event, but I did get to observe, and assist. One of the biggest takeaways I got from this was, once again, even if you’re not too excited about driving to Franklin in early morning traffic, everything has a purpose. Being at this institute showed me that there isn’t one right way to facilitate. Everyone has their own style and it showed through the three pairs of facilitators. Each group had their own attitudes and backgrounds, filled with their own challenges and ideas, and seeing each facilitators’ style work effectively was just awesome. I was excited as I saw students breaking out of their shells, and also being challenged in their mindsets, while also seeing facilitators think on their feet, and adjusting on the fly. In the end, it was a very fruitful experience for the students who learned a lot, and for me who was able to observe.

But this posed a challenge for me, would I be able to think on my feet and adjust? I only facilitated once, and it was a low pressure venue of guys who all had to experience the same thing and facilitate as well. They sympathized with me, and supported me, and I with them.

Eventually the Bay State Leadership training came along, and I was slated to go as a co-facilitator. I was very excited, and a little nervous. I was a little bit wary of how the kids would feel, coming in on one of their precious Summer nights because they were captains of their sports teams, but this not only prepared me mentally, but had me worried on how I would react. The night was quick, and I definitely missed some opportunities to facilitate the discussion more. I am not sure whether it was a product of the timing, or the group dynamics, or if I was just hesitant. Though it had its ups and downs, I definitely learned more by watching, observing, and even facilitating a bit in my group.

Overall, I had a great time at all three events and I obviously have room to grow in facilitating. I still need to discover my style, and from hearing everyone else and their input, the more I do it, the more comfortable it will be, and I can’t wait to see how I grow in this.


PYD Field Day

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Temperatures are high and the exciting summer spirit was captured at the Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) Field Day that Huskies for Sport in Society hosted at the Little League field in the Boston Commons last Saturday. PYD is an organization that matches disabled youth with a mentor. Matches meet monthly and do all sorts of things as a team. We, Safaa and Suzanne, met Steve, the Mentor Match specialist at PYD, at a networking event in April. We’ve been planning and mapping out the activities for the day, together with volunteers Kelsey, Margaret, Chloe and Anna from the NU Girls Rowing team. The aim for the day was for the matches to meet with other matches and, most important, to find out that, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, they have many things in common.

The day started with ice-breakers.  We had a great start with the “Categories” game, where the group mingles and after a category is announced, quickly organizes itself into smaller groups based on the category to which they  identify with, for example music taste, nationality or favorite ice-cream flavor! We now know that Boston is the participants’ favorite city that only one person likes pop music, and that vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are the most desirable ice cream flavors.

Since the day was full of sports activities, it was important to stretch our muscles and the rowing crew did a great job leading this. All loosened up, the group split up and formed 5 groups, each group for each fun-station, including Soccer Challenge, Kite decorating and flying, Frisbee golf, Red light – Green light, and the Oreo-challenge. Throughout the day participants rotated around the fun-stations, learning new skills and more about each other and, most importantly, practicing being the leaders they all are.

Kelsey and Suzanne facilitated the soccer challenge. Our first group consisted of a visually impaired, really into sports couple. The mentee is a soccer-fan and his mission for the day was to get his mentor, into the sport as well. After some basic dribbling games, we started a World Cup tournament. It was Serbia against the US, against Regina (PYD’s co-founder and CEO) who represented Italy just because of her love for the country, against Suzanne who represented the Netherlands. Serbia won by 2-0-0-0, but we were even happier that all participants enjoyed playing the game.

The next group played a 2-against-2 game. Although it was a tied game, they were all winners. They cheered on their team mates and each other showing great sportsmanship.

All participants showed leadership skills. One member of each group was responsible for a smooth transition between stations, which required awareness of time and initiative. Other members were leaders in their own way. One felt comfortable explaining an activity, while another would rather demonstrate an activity with one of the facilitators. Towards the end of the morning, two mentees even initiated and energized the others to play a game of kick-ball.

To conclude the day, we gathered at the stands and recognized these leadership skills with a certificate to each of the mentees. Leadership exists in small actions, whether it is encouraging team mates to play or guiding them so they can participate fully. It was great to see new friendships emerge through sport and to find out commonalities that lie below the surface.

This was our first time organizing an event on behalf of Huskies for Sport in Society. The whole process, from the initial meeting to recruiting volunteers and actually hosting the event, was a great learning experience and something to build on for the future of H4SIS. A big thanks to the NU Rowing crew, we hope we can work together in the future! Here’s to Field Day becoming a regular, seasonal event. Watch this space for the next Sport in Society and Partners for Youth with Disabilities collaboration!

Saf & Sue

Sara Binkhorst, Summer 2013 Intern

Over the past two months, I feel I have grown not only as a productive staff member contributing to Sport in Society’s mission but also as an athlete and as a person overall. I have truly embraced the values of Sport in Society and have committed myself to not only spreading their mission through the work I have done but also by committing myself to standing by that mission in my daily life. Sport and Society is built on the foundations of social justice, leadership, respect and the bystander model. These pillars are taught through the underlying messages learned in sports. A common denominator across class, race, gender, age, etc., sports is used as a vehicle to promote social justice and social change.

These are the messages delineated were exposed to me my first day upon working here. However I feel as though these fundamental values did not initially register with me. I was excited listening to the work that went on here and after my first week or two of work, I feel as though I truly began to adopt a Sport in Society mindset. This mindset only grew with the more time I spent here, and my passion for making a difference only increased. I was afforded the incredible opportunity to get involved with so many different aspects of the organization and was able to do much more than benign office maintenance. I was involved with direct service work in addition to perusing individual interests of mine in a project.

The project I invested the majority of my time into was researching and developing a goal setting curriculum in conjunction with some of the various sport based youth development organizations that Sport in Society partners with. I believe that students who are at high risk would benefit from the guidance and structure of a goal-setting curriculum to help plan their futures. I researched “SMART” goals, what they were and how they are beneficial. I looked at outside organizations structure of goal setting curriculums and studied the impact it has on them. My focus group for this project was majority underprivileged middle school students. I then summarized my findings and began to examine other curriculum that Sport in Society uses, such as MVP (Mentors in Violence Prevention), to learn how to design and develop a curriculum. Unfortunately, due to the short eight weeks that I spent with Sport in Society, I was unable to finish and produce a final curriculum. Originally, I was a bit disappointed in my performance in that I was not able to produce a final product. However, I did learn a great deal in the process of my individual project. I am extremely excited and optimistic in the fact that a future intern with Sort in Society will pick up where I left off.

I feel very grateful and extremely blessed for the opportunity I had to work with this great organization this summer. I want to thank the people I worked with for their kindness and help as they patiently taught me the ins and outs in this organization and the professional world in general. The entire staff truly made this organization a pleasure to come to work each day and motivated me with their optimistic and determined attitude towards making a difference. I look forward to keeping in touch in the future, and staying involved with Sport in Society long term.


Thank you,

Sara Binkhorst

The Orientation at Northeastern University

Last week, some of us interns at Sport in Society participated in the Northeastern University new student orientations. We set up a table for our organization and the goal was to get new students to join the Huskies For Sport in Society club, which will spread the Sport in Society mission on campus.

Before the orientation, all of the interns and the Program Manager, Ricardhy Grandoit, created an agenda for the orientation. In order to attract attention, we decided to directly use sports. Creating a little game was great because on one hand, sports are the platform for everything we do here at Sport in Society, and on the other hand, a game would attract incoming students to our table. The game involved a competition amongst the students of who could make the most shots. We set up four mini basketball hoops, each one representing a pillar of Sport in Society; leadership, social justice, bystander and bystander power. Each person was allowed 4 shots and whoever got the most at the end of the orientation received a free T-shirt. By getting people to our table, we were then able to tell them what Huskies For Sport in Society was and ultimately gain new members.

It turned out that the mini basketball game worked quite well in attracting people. Some people even asked to shoot before the start of the orientation. Most of the time when people went by the Huskies For Sport in Society club table, they stopped for a while and showed interest in the game and our organization. By allowing each participant to choose whichever hoop they wanted, it got people looking at the four core concepts of Sport in Society which gave them a basic idea of what we were all about. People showed great interest in knowing more about the club and our organization, especially how we use sports to deal with social issues like bullying, domestic violence and diversity.

Throughout this process, I could tell that everyone loved sports, were responsible community members, and were interested and willing to help building a better society. I personally think this is a perfect and interesting combination because sports are fun, and are able to give off positive attitudes, which ultimately make sports a very effective tool in dealing with social issues. It definitely gains people’s interests and motivates them to do something good in the process. The experience of promoting Huskies For Sport in Society at this orientation not only gave me a chance to better understand Sport in Society, but it also allowed me to talk to other people about this one-of-a-kind organization. I am really excited to see the positive impact that sports bring to our society and how people come to realize that they could use the power and appeal of sports to build an even stronger society. I feel proud to be a part of Sport in Society; spreading its mission and ideas, while learning and doing positive acts every day that will one day make the world around us better.