Students at colleges and universities are beginning to find ways to utilize sport as a platform for social change. Students are taking up initiatives to use sport as a catalyst to promote and engage in community development, social responsibility, and community service.
SportsCorps is a sport for social change program of the Fitzgerald Youth Sports Institute that is focusing on further structuring student engagement in this area, and helps to facilitate the formation of student clubs -- SportsCorps harnesses the passion and dedication of youth leaders who embrace the ideals of service and community activism, while utilizing the vehicle of sport to make lasting impact in communities around the globe. SportsCorps captures the energy of successful service models such as the PeaceCorps, and supports a growing national and international movement focused on utilizing the power of sport as a catalyst for creating healthy communities.
SportsCorps works to engage and foster student clubs to empower college students with the knowledge, tools, and connections to explore the field of sport and social change, use sport as a vehicle for community engagement, promote social justice within sport itself, and study issues at the intersection of sport and social issues. SportsCorps is working to raise awareness and help foster a collaborative of colleges and universities doing work in sport and civic engagement.
The first SportsCorps student club was formed at Brown University in the fall of 2010. The primary purpose of SportsCorps @ Brown is to engage and provide the necessary resources to current undergraduate and graduate students on campus. SportsCorps @ Brown meets once a week and offers students (1) volunteer, (2) fundraising and (3) research opportunities, and members of SportsCorps @ Brown are provided with training and skills, which enable them to pursue SportsCorps initiatives in schools, health centers and in the community.
Students interested in volunteering can do so through Project GOAL – a non-profit located in Central Falls and Providence Rhode Island that uses the power and passion of soccer to help inner city kids stay off the streets, stay in school, realize opportunities in higher education, and learn life skills. In terms of fundraising, students organize sport events, and collaborate with sport for social change organizations locally and globally to raise funds and to raise awareness. Research opportunities consist of student-run classes, a sport for social change fellowship opportunity, and individual speakers/panel discussions that all revolve around sport for social change issues.
SportsCorps @ Brown has also started to form relationships with other student clubs on campus. For example, SportsCorps @ Brown and the Brown Sports Business Club have aligned with each other to co-host events that bring together guest speakers who have sports related experience across the spectrum of the for-profit and non-profit sectors of the sports industry. SportsCorps @ Brown has also formed a relationship with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). SAAC members from different athletic teams get involved with SportsCorps @ Brown.
Student leadership surrounding sport for social change issues is growing and there is an opportunity to bring more structure through a student club model. The student club provides a unique platform for student-athletes and the general student population to come together to promote the power of sport in a collaborative community. Based off of the initial success of SportsCorps @ Brown, there is reason to believe that in the future other sport for social change student ambassadors will start SportsCorps student clubs. Author - Matt Doyle - Student Director, SportsCorps @ Brown