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Liza Ritchie, Interval House of Hamilton

The Influence of Sports Leadership in Ending Gender-Based Violence

Our keynote presentation will explore the potential that athletics and recreation have in creating material social changes in relation to ending gender-based violence (GBV). We recognize the need to view our athletes and coaches holistically; what happens on the pitch is just as important as what happens off it, and our programming honours the interplay between healthy relationships, consent, mental health, and more inclusive sports spaces. Our programs have seen several positive impacts, where sports leadership has rendered improvements in spreading positive messages about healthy relationships and ending violence, creating safer locker rooms with open, non-judgmental, and respectful environments for growth, and increasing public awareness about resources and supports available.

In partnership with our sports ambassadors, this presentation provides attendees with increased awareness and understanding of GBV, its impacts, and how we can safely intervene when we experience it. Our focus will be on the positive impacts that sports leadership can have in fostering healthy relationships, role modelling respectful behaviours, and engaging youth in open conversations about their experiences to improve their overall health and well-being. The presentation will involve: (1) key information about consent, bystander intervention, and the realities of GBV in athletics, (2) interactive components appropriate for the larger group to participate, and (3) direct accounts from our sports partners about what it means to be more than a bystander.

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