By Camryn Cupp
February is therapeutic recreation awareness month. In celebration, my department hosted a guest lecturer. This year’s guest was someone named Dr. Sarah Hillyer. I, like most students, nearly let the less than desirable weather deter me from attending this extracurricular event. In retrospect, I am grateful that I made the effort to attend the lecture.
At this event Dr. Hillyer shared the innovation equation, which is:
P+P+P+P= Better World. The 4 P’s represent Passion, Platform, Purpose, and Perseverance. Let me just tell you, this equation changed me. Through this equation, Dr. Hillyer explained the international perspective on the intersection of women, disability, and sport. She took us through her life and intentionally discussed where the 4 P’s played a role and molded her into the global change agent that she is today.
After this event, I sent an email to the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society asking how I could get involved. I felt connected to the Center’s mission and wanted to help in any way I could. In complete transparency going into my meeting with Dr. Hillyer, I thought I would be collecting sporting equipment to send overseas, becoming a pen pal with a member of the Global Sports Mentoring Program, or doing work in disability sport. Simply put, I figured that my role would be very insignificant. Obviously, I didn’t share this preconceived notion, and over the course of our meeting, we decided there was a need to get connected with refugees and immigrants in the Knoxville community. Moving forward that is exactly what we did. We wanted to use sport to create positive psychosocial well-being for refugees and immigrants locally. This is an ongoing process that began with a few steps.
Step 1: Conduct research. Everyone and everything at the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society is done very intentionally and thoroughly. As such, I wanted to make sure I was educated and understood the complexity of life for refugee and immigrant families. I read the 2017 Global report, chapters from a book on displacement and resettlement, and read from the Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace.
Step 2: Network. I learned about many organizations within the Knoxville community engaged in impactful work involving the refugee community. I was honored to meet with leaders of The Center for English and Knoxville Internationals Network (K.I.N.). Through this, we established a partnership with Knoxville Internationals Network.
Step 3: Active Participation. We attended the K.I.N. international thanksgiving event held at Powell Elementary School. This was a culminating event involving the knowledge and experiences that I gained over the course of the semester. I recruited volunteers, trained them, held meetings, and created lesson plans to educate and empower the volunteers. At this event, we planned and managed a variety of engaging sport-related activities.
Step 4: Continuation. We are currently exploring alternative methods to be continuously involved with K.I.N. and have new student interns to keep up engagement and networks that were established this fall.
Overall, this was such an impactful experience and I am excited to continue to be involved with the Center for Sport Peace and Society. I love their vision of an inclusive and equitable world. The lesson I hope others take from my experience is to quit justifying reasons not to do things and instead take a step into the unknown. You simply never know the people you’ll meet or the memories you’ll create until you get out and give it a try.