Using Sport to Bring Trauma-Informed Approaches to Programming

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC) is a national non-profit organization serving 200,000 young people in more than 650 locations across Canada. The mission of all Boys and Girls Clubs is to provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life

Young people’s emotional, mental and physical health is an issue of great concern to the Clubs. Research has demonstrated that the experience of trauma in childhood greatly increases the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, tobacco use, alcohol dependence, drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, homelessness and a myriad of health problems. For this reason, it is important for Club staff to understand how to work with a trauma informed lens for all of its members.  Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is well-positioned to implement a national trauma-informed sport program as a vehicle to address the physical and mental health needs of victims of family violence and child abuse.  This program represents an opportunity to not simply introduce new training and program, but rather to embed trauma-informed practices in all aspects of the Club, thus creating an organizational culture that is trauma-informed, inclusive and has an increased capacity to improve health outcomes for the children and youth in our Club communities.

The intervention will be built into existing and new sports leagues that will run weekly across three “seasons of play” per year.   The target age group is 9 to 12 years and the sports will include hockey, basketball and soccer.   Full-time Club staff will be trained in trauma-informed practices and the specifics of the implementation.  The University of British Columbia is partnering in evaluating the efficacy of the intervention.  More details on the approach and measured outcomes will be shared here as the program rolls out between 2016 and 2020.

Alexandria Bondy