Sinan Al Najjar and John RoccaStudents Sinan Al Najjar and John Rocca led a “Make a Difference” project that benefited Windsor’s Downtown Mission as part of a course on social responsibility and sport.

Sport management students demonstrate social responsibility

Community projects by students in her course Social Responsibility and Sport have far exceeded her expectations, says sport management and leadership professor Sarah Gee.

“This is the first time that this course has been offered and the students have taken complete ownership of making a difference through various initiatives,” says Dr. Gee. “This experience has pushed students to apply conceptual and theoretical knowledge about social responsibility and employ an array of skills that they have learned through other sport management courses — marketing, communication, strategic planning — to create, plan, organize, communicate, and carry out projects that have had a direct and indirect social impact on our community.”

Fourth-year sport management students worked in pairs or on their own to engage in a semester-long experiential learning activity called the “Make a Difference” project. The primary purpose of this assignment was to encourage students to take ideas from the course and put them into action outside the classroom in a way that makes the world a better, more socially responsible, place, says Gee.

“It gave students an opportunity to connect with a sport team, league, event, or athlete of their choice and create and deliver a social responsibility initiative.”

Using their own network contacts, students partnered with sport organizations including: the Windsor men’s Croatian soccer team; Windsor Junior Spitfires AAA U13 team; South County Bandits volleyball club; Jerry Marentette and the Power Pit Gym; Windsor Aces hockey team; a group of St. Clair College athletes; Hi-Way Bowl in Sarnia; the Unified Hearts Organization in Ghana; and Lancer volleyball, men’s hockey, basketball, and football teams.

Their projects ranged from collecting donations of clothing and food to raising funds, promoting environmental sustainability practices, and creating awareness on such social issues as mental health, inclusivity, men’s health, sexual violence against women, and homelessness.

The projects assisted local, national, and international non-profit and charitable organizations to the tune of $1,480, as well as 364 food items, 450 clothing items, and 27 items of sports equipment. Beneficiaries included the Downtown Mission, Drouillard Place, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Hiatus House, Street Help, New Life, the Movember movement, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, #TeamSeas, and the Remar Christian Children’s Home in Ghana.

“Through these partnerships and the nature of their projects, the sport management students have instilled the importance of being socially responsible citizens to other members of our community,” says Gee. “These projects were fantastic.”

Student Ryan Barbosa calls the course an amazing experience: “It felt great to be able to make a positive impact in the Windsor-Essex community.”

Classmate Christian Mcbride adds that participating in the Make a Difference project provided a new perspective.

“It opened my eyes to the positive impact sport teams can have on our community through social initiatives, and how it enforced that social responsibility is bigger than sport,” he says.

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