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Brandon University Bobcats unveil new social responsibility program

By: Harry Callaghan
Posted: February 1, 2021 06:59

Bobcats Assist aims to improve quality of life for marginalized people

Image: Brandon University Bobcats

The Brandon University Bobcats are proudly unveiling a new social responsibility program aimed at creating opportunities and awareness for social causes.

The Bobcats Assist program's mission is to improve the quality of life for marginalized populations by generating awareness on social issues, removing barriers and by providing opportunities for people in the community.

The social responsibility program will be based on three main pillars:
Anti-Racism
Diversity and Inclusion
Youth Active Living and Education

The program will also aim to branch out into supporting other causes including (but not limited to) food security, mental health, poverty and green initiatives, all of which will focus on the core mission of supporting those in need. 

Forming alliances will be an important aspect of the program. Community organizations who share a similar focus are encouraged to reach out, so that strong partnerships can be formed.

The program is being led by women's basketball coach Novell Thomas and Sports Information and Marketing Officer Matt Packwood as a way to further the BU Athletics program's efforts in championing social causes.

"We are lucky to have a platform where we can use our students and campus community to make a difference. The purpose of our pillars and initiatives will be to bring awareness to issues in society as well as remove barriers and create opportunities for those who may be facing challenges. Last year was very eye-opening and reaffirmed many of the issues that need attention and need to be addressed. We are excited to roll out our social responsibility initiatives with the help of students, organizations and businesses that share a common vision for what community should be," says Thomas.

Thomas and Packwood are encouraging community members and other sport partners to get involved.

"It is important for us to raise our voices and act, in support of these important causes. For anyone that's encountered hardships or has been disadvantaged, we want to support and provide opportunities in any way possible. We encourage all to give back. We want to continue the important work that's been started and commit to supporting people in our community," says Packwood.

Brandon University Athletics has made strides in the past year as the Bobcat Athletic program was one of 12 U SPORTS and Canadian Colleges Athletic Association schools to formally support The Racial Equity Project, a cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative study aimed at collecting race-based data outlining the experience of Black and Indigenous People of Colour in Canadian colleges and universities.

The study is spearheaded by the Black Canadian Coaches Association (BCCA), of which Thomas is a committee member.

The study and efforts of the BCCA are initiatives that the BU Bobcats are proud to be part of, but more needs to be done, both locally and nationally, hence the reason for launching the Bobcats Assist program now.

"BU Athletics is pleased to play a role nationally by supporting The Racial Equity Project," says Brandon University Director of Athletics and Community Engagement Russ Paddock. "Locally, the creation of Bobcat Assist will provide the opportunity for Bobcat student athletes and staff to play a leadership role in the various social responsibility initiatives that will develop."

To start the program ahead of Black History Month coming in February, Bobcats Assist is striving to develop awareness by celebrating black history, black heritage and black excellence. We would like for local teachers, students and those in performing arts, to submit their Black History Month artistic creations and or expressions (poems, songs, illustrations, paintings, performances, etc.). Creations/expressions will then be shared on our Bobcats Assist Social Responsibility webpage and social media channels.

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