Alumna's organization helps create social change through sport
By Wanda Praamsma, Communications Officer
In 2012, after graduating with a degree in kinesiology, Rebecca Love (Artsci’12) left for Trinidad and Tobago as a Queen’s Pathy Family Fellow to work on a development project helping Caribbean governments use sport as a means to inspire social change.
She worked with local organizations to conduct surveys into child abuse, particularly in organized environments such as sports clubs, and from there created plans to educate community leaders and develop programs that use sports activities as an education tool.
Ms. Love is now using her international experience to work on an ambitious long-term project to create a Canadian-based organization that works to instill positive values and behaviour in children through sport.
The first program of its kind in Canada, Beyond Us reaches out to university athletes and trains them to become mentors to at-risk youth in local communities. Starting with a pilot project out of Queen’s, Ms. Love is sending Gaels athletes into local high schools to test out a curriculum of various activities that reinforce fundamental values set out by the United Nations, such as respect, cooperation, inclusion, and respect for diversity.
“I really wanted to create a grassroots program that works right at the community level to foster change,” says Ms. Love. “The Beyond Us program I started is already up and running in various communities in the Caribbean, but I want its primary focus to be on being a youth-led organization that works in Canadian communities. I want to get our enthusiastic athletes involved right here first and then continue to build the program internationally.”
The Queen’s athletes volunteering with Beyond Us are working with children in several high schools and the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston. They work in small groups, choosing various games, which range from creating a graffiti wall that represents the club or team members’ values and personal strengths, to a game called flying carpets that has kids holding towels and passing a ball between towels for the length of a soccer field. Each game is designed to teach two of the fundamental values, and after the game, the group has a discussion about what came up during the activity and what they learned.
“It’s incredible to see the change in children through these games, how their understanding of each other and themselves grows. They become much more confident,” says Ms. Love, who plans to take Beyond Us into six other Canadian universities next year.
For Ms. Love, Beyond Us wouldn’t have been possible without first having her experience in Trinidad through the Pathy Family Fellowship (PFF), a program that offers Queen’s undergraduate and master’s students up to $30,000 in funding to develop a project promoting social change abroad. The program, started in 2011, is supported by the Pathy Family Foundation and is administered on campus through the International Centre (QUIC). This year is the final year of a pilot phase of the program, and applications are being accepted until Feb. 24.
“It’s fantastic to see a project that began with the PFF Community Leadership Program come full circle and make an impact here in the Kingston community and on Queen’s campus,” says Laura Marchese-Smith, Education Abroad Advisor at QUIC. “Rebecca has demonstrated outstanding determination and leadership skills in her work in the Caribbean and in the establishment of Beyond Us. We are proud that this initiative was inspired by her work with the PFF program.”
For more information on the PFF program and to apply, visit the QUIC website.
More information on Beyond Us