Jordan Weeden joined the Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association (SBSA) Board of Directors in 2019 as the membership director and is now the organization’s Chair.
Prior to his involvement with the board, Weeden has been involved volunteering with the organization for a number of years in a variety of ways, whether it’s coaching goalball, helping out at different fundraisers or dressing up as the organization’s mascot, Rally the Raccoon.
Read below as Weeden answers six questions about his volunteering journey.
Who or what inspired you to volunteer and why?
I’m a blind person. I’m less blind than most people so I can help more than some other blind people can. It’s really hard to not see a group of people and be like “I need to help them.” Normally, I’m someone who is a guide for someone who has more visual impairment than I have. It’s just the people in the community and around us that are the inspiration for what I do. You have so many people, so many youth who don’t have a good mentor and I try to be that.
Why do you believe volunteering is important?
Communally, it’s probably not a bad idea to have people giving their time without expectation that it’s for something else. You should just be doing it for the sake of doing it. I’m around a lot of these people very frequently and a lot of them need extra help and extra supports. If you don’t have your vision, you can be very independent, but it can be very hard to get around without support and that’s why I’m here.
How important are volunteers to the general sport community?
For Saskatchewan, it’s incredibly important. If we didn’t have people who spent all their time working and volunteering on amateur sport 50 years ago, we wouldn’t have what we have now. I know a lot of the volunteers from years back and if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have what we have now. We wouldn’t have the support structures we have now, we wouldn’t have the policies we have now, we wouldn’t have anything that we have now if it wasn’t for those people.
It’s integral here, specifically in Saskatchewan, because of how amateur sport works here. We just need people to give their time and a lot of people are more than happy to. This year, we [Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association] have more volunteers than any other year in probably the last ten years. And it’s great. People want to do it and they are fighting for board positions for the sake of SBSA’s future. So, I’m more than happy that this is happening. Volunteerism in Saskatchewan is super important.
What is it that drives you to keep volunteering?
I’m drawn to the youth because at a point, with blind people in particular, you can’t renew and refill your stock of people because you don’t have numerous blind people. Sometimes you have to wait for them to show up and come to you and you don’t have that time, so you have to go and find them.
For me, youth sport needs to happen and be invested in because we’ve had more young people do blind hockey, bowling, goalball and just had more blind, young people do sport in general this year. These kids need some support. When I was their age, 14-16, I didn’t have those supports, I didn’t have goalball because everyone aged out. So, I want to make sure that by the time I’m done, there’s goalball for the next 20 years of kids.
What is the most rewarding part of volunteering for you?
I love coaching goalball. I love teaching it, I love showing it to people. I love showing it to people who have never played before. I love showing it to sighted people. I love blinding people [with blacked out goggles or eye coverings] and playing so they can get the full experience because it’s such a different, unique, novel experience.
What would you say to get others involved in coaching?
There’s a thing that the Canadian Blind hockey guys told me that I thought was a cool statement. “There’s a feeling you can’t unfeel.” They basically explained that there’s a certain thing you feel when you volunteer and it’s very different feeling because it’s not a selfish feeling, it’s a communal kind of feeling that you can’t get anywhere else. And it gets even deeper when it’s done volunteering for the blind. It gives you a sense of wellbeing almost.