This week, RISE, a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, began facilitating interactive workshops with Arlington Public Schools Student-Athlete Advisory Council members and coaches. This is the first in a series of interactive cultural competence workshops that APS and RISE will be providing to athletes and coaches as part of a new partnership.
The overarching goal of the training program is to engage participants in the development of cultural competence skills. RISE programs are designed to equip student athletes, coaches and staff with the tools to positively and effectively address matters of racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. This training will help ensure that APS is creating a positive, supportive environment for all student athletes and coaches.
“Addressing racism and creating inclusive and equitable communities demands long-term, intentional action, and requires education, skill development and engaging in difficult conversations with people who have different perspectives and experiences than your own,” said Dr. Andrew Mac Intosh, RISE Chief Program Officer. “Sports have the power to bring communities together and can be the conduit for creating positive social change. APS is taking an important step by engaging in these workshops to empower students and coaches to be leaders for discussing and addressing matters of racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion.”
RISE held its first session with Student-Athlete Advisory Council members to discuss identity, diversity concepts and diversity and inclusion challenges student athletes are facing on Mon, June 7.
During the workshop, students reflected on the labels they use to define themselves, why they do so, and which labels hold more importance. Students were also challenged to consider the multifaceted nature of their identities and discuss the importance of diversity.
Student participants shared their perspectives and experiences related to race related challenges in APS athletics. They also explored definitions of key terms related to race and diversity, questions they may have about these concepts, such as race and ethnicity, and how these terms are socially constructed.
RISE is also offering leadership workshops for APS coaches in June. The workshops are also designed to engage coaches in the development of cultural competence skills. The first coaches’ workshop took place on June 8 with a focus on diversity concepts, such as racism and anti-racism, and included discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion challenges in the district and potential solutions to the challenges.
To ensure as many coaches as possible can participate, workshops will be offered during various points of the year. Ongoing training will also be provided to student-athletes throughout the upcoming 2021-22 school year.
“This partnership is an important step forward in our work to eliminate racial discrimination and to foster equity and inclusion not only in our classrooms and schools, but also in sports and athletics,” said Arron Gregory, APS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. “We are embarking on this work as part of a broader effort to support and empower our young athletes, students and staff to address incidents of racism when they occur. We want to provide our staff more tools to be effective advocates for students in addressing incidents of bias and discrimination on and off the field. In the words of James Baldwin, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ As a leading school division in Virginia, we will face this challenge.”
RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations. Through partnerships and programs, RISE inspires leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality. RISE’s vision is to create a nation unified through sports committed to racial equity and social justice. Learn more at https://risetowin.org