Humber College is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Innovation Award for its groundbreaking #HereToPlay campaign.
Ray Chateau, Director of Athletics and Recreation at Humber, accepted the award this evening at the CCAA Hall of Fame Banquet in Abbotsford, BC.
The Innovation Award recognizes a CCAA member institution that has developed an initiative that demonstrates unique marketing, communication or technological advances in its athletic program.
The Humber College Department of Athletics and Recreation collaborated with the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre to help build awareness of the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in athletics and recreation spaces.
On Dec. 7, 2016, #HereToPlay night featured ceremonies prior to tip-off of the Men’s and Women’s Basketball varsity games. The ceremony celebrated this innovative program by unveiling a banner which signified that Athletics is a safe place. Along with being live streamed, this ceremony was played on Rogers television for viewers across Canada.
“Humber took steps to tangibly demonstrate that every individual matters,” said David Munro, CCAA VP Sport Development. “Their collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Resource Centre was a terrific move forward to make Athletics a safe place.”
Leading up to the campaign, videos featuring student-athletes were created to spread awareness throughout the Humber community. Social media was used as a vehicle to showcase the importance of inclusion and anti-hazing. The videos have received more than 15,000 combined views on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and remain featured on the Humber Hawks website.
Meanwhile, after establishing guidelines and requiring student-athletes and staff to attend training courses regarding hazing and bullying, the facilities at Humber have seen an 18% increase in memberships once the campaign became active.
Athletics is an essential part of the collegiate experience and every student, whether on a team or in the stands, should have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sports in an environment of respect and safety. The genesis of the #HereToPlay campaign was to spread awareness throughout the Humber community as well as create a benchmark for other institutions across the CCAA.
The campaign has had such a positive impact according to Briana Donaldson, a Humber student-athlete and LGBTQ+ member.
“After the reveal of the banner and video at the #HereToPlay ceremony, there was an overwhelmingly huge sense of comfort and acceptance,” she said. “This feeling not only affected me, but every single other person in the stands that night, who has ever felt excluded for being different.”
Donaldson believes people of diversity at Humber are now seeing the institution as a home away from home.
“Although Humber has always been an extremely accepting and safe environment, having visual representations of diversity throughout the school and athletics solidifies the commonality of inclusiveness, which makes Athletics feel like a family,” said Donaldson.
“When seeing people of diversity shown in a positive and public manner, it creates a social normality which paves the way for new students, recruits, and faculty to embrace their differences in our welcoming and uplifting community.”