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A Hurdle to Success: UTSC hosts second installment of popular race, education and sport symposium

Participants of a panel discussion at A Hurdle to Success. [Photo by Ken Jones]

Youth often view professional sport as the golden ticket to success, without understanding success can be defined in ways other than becoming a professional athlete—a path reserved for an exclusive group of individuals worldwide. As Toronto prepares to welcome elite athletes to the Pan Am and Parapan American Games in 2015, the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) held A Hurdle to Success, a symposium that aims to bring communities, educators and youth involved in sport together to examine how to improve the pathways to college and university, not only for sport but for educational attainment in Indigenous and racialized youth populations throughout Canada.

A previous panel in the series, held earlier this year at Hart House, examined community playgrounds and showcased overwhelming numbers of black and Indigenous youth in communities throughout Toronto. Professor Bruce Kidd, UTSC’s interim principal says, “There are very few of those youth who ever seem to end up in organized sport or in college and university programs, despite the fact that in Canada, public education and higher education probably provide the best opportunities for growth and development of sport and their link to education provides other developmental opportunities.” Before excelling in sport and becoming a storied champion and educator, Kidd learned a valuable lesson from his mother—if you love something, teach it to a friend—an idea that represents the spirit that led to the planning of the symposium series, and one that encourages community leaders, educators, and national and provincial leaders to create dialogue around opportunities that support student success in both sport and education, while ensuring access to education and support systems throughout the educational lifecycle and beyond.

Students and educators, administrators and policy-makers worked together to create tools that would address the challenges and barriers in race, education and sport. Among the most popular discussions of the day were creating opportunities for athletes and those working in sport—from physical therapists and coaches to sportscasters and analysts—to speak with youth and help them understand that professional sport is one of many worthy options. First and foremost, education is essential, and our communities and policy-makers must work together to ensure student success.

Paul Jones, sportscaster for the Toronto Raptors, says it’s important to encourage youth to follow their dreams, and at the same time mentor youth to be open to the many paths an education provides. “There is more than one dream. When you have an education, no one can take that from you.”

A third installment of the series will be announced through the Hart House website. This event is presented by the University of Toronto’s Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office, First Nations House, the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Hart House, University of Toronto Scarborough and the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Ignite Initiatives.

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© University of Toronto Scarborough