Manitoba government enhances safe sport resources, services and programs for children and youth
The Manitoba government is investing $250,000 to develop and implement the Pathway to Safer Sport program and is expanding training requirements for coaches and staff who work in the kindergarten to Grade 12 school system, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Andrew Smith and Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko announced today.
“Our government recognizes that mistreated athletes, as well as their families and friends, experience significant emotional, psychological and physical health impacts,” said Smith. “We are committed to building on existing safe sport resources, policies and practices to further enhance the safety of Manitoba athletes.”
The Pathway to Safer Sport, developed collaboratively with Sport Manitoba, focuses on three pillars:
- communication to build awareness;
- prevention strategies; and
- responsive maltreatment support services.
The Pathway to Safer Sport includes plans for a public awareness campaign to communicate the resources available for athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and caregivers. Additionally, as part of its prevention strategies, the framework will introduce an enhanced mandatory safe sports policy and governance program for provincial sport organizations. These organizations will participate in comprehensive training sessions that support the development of safe sport environments. Other resources and training modules will empower athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and caregivers to identify unacceptable behaviour and to take action to prevent, recognize, address and report maltreatment.
The Pathway to Safer Sport will also launch enhanced services that respond effectively when maltreatment has occurred. The toll-free Safe Sport Line (1-833-656-7233) provides 24/7confidential support for anyone experiencing or witnessing abuse, harassment, bullying or hazing in sport. To access the online collection of tools, templates and resources in the Pathway to Safer sport, visit www.sportmanitoba.ca/safe-sport/.
To ensure the Pathway to Safer Sport is effective across the province, Sport Manitoba will consult with rural, northern and marginalized communities to identify their specific needs and adapt the framework’s tools and resources as needed. Sport Manitoba will also subscribe to the Sport Culture Index, an innovative online tool that will help leaders measure and monitor the wellness and effectiveness of their organization’s culture.
“Thank you to the Manitoba government for committing to preventing, addressing and acting on all forms of misconduct or maltreatment in sport,” said Janet McMahon, president and CEO, Sport Manitoba. “With this critical financial support, we can create positive changes in our province’s sport culture. Thank you also to Sport Law and our partners in sport who are working together to protect our kids and our community.”
To further enhance the safety of students, Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning is mandating that coaches who work in the kindergarten to Grade 12 school system, as well as all school staff, complete online training from Respect Group, an organization that aims to empower people to recognize and prevent bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination, said Ewasko.
“Manitoba schools have many safeguards in place to protect students and provide a safe learning environment, but we can always improve our policies,” said Ewasko. “We know that school staff are often among the first to hear from students experiencing maltreatment, so it is critical they are well-equipped to respond appropriately.”
Coaches in the kindergarten to Grade 12 school system will now be required to complete the Respect in Sport program. The minister noted the Respect in Sport program has been mandated for all other coaches in the province since 2007 and this new requirement will close that gap.
In addition, all school staff are expected to complete a newly updated version of the Respect in School program by Feb. 28, 2023.
“Sport Manitoba was the first organization in Canada to mandate the Respect in Sport program for community coaches over 15 years ago,” said Sheldon Kennedy, co-founder, Respect Group. “I applaud the Manitoba government for their proactive approach to further expand child protection education for all school coaches and school-based personnel across the province. We know that those interacting with students each day are trusted adults in a child/student’s life and they need the tools to know how to listen and to step up and step in when required.”
“Our government is committed to working with community partners to promote safe sport environments for all Manitoba athletes,” said Smith. “These initiatives respond to the immediate need to create awareness, implement prevention measures and provide support to victims.”
If there are concerns about abuse, harassment, bullying or hazing in sport, call the toll-free Safe Sport Line at 1-833-656-7233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For more information:
- Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
- Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: email@example.com.
- Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.