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Spark Ideas Grant leads to a bright future – Expression of interest open 

As one of the first recipients of the Spark Ideas Grant, Saskatchewan Athletics in partnership with Running Wild Athletics Club (RWAC) ignited change in numerous communities across the province and grew the program’s inclusivity. 

The grant’s purpose is to increase Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible opportunities in Saskatchewan’s amateur sport system, while achieving lasting change. With the aid of member-led initiatives, the grant is designed to expand the accessibility of quality sport in the province.  

With the grant’s funding, Saskatchewan Athletics and RWAC worked together to gain access to sustainable communication practices and programs, while prioritizing the individual needs of the communities involved in the club. 

“The grant recognizes major functions and components that are valuable [in sport],” said Derek Rope, founder of Saskatchewan Aboriginal Track & Field, which manages RWAC. 

Together the two organizations started a conversation about achieving a safe and inclusive space in the sport. According to their website, RWAC wants to ensure that youth are given healthy tools to help them positively mature their mental, physical and emotional health, something Saskatchewan Athletics also strives for. 

“With [Saskatchewan Athletics] we have a safe space where they are actually listening to what communities’ needs are, as opposed to what track and field is individually.” 

The grant is meant to provide financial support so recipients can achieve inclusive environments that can serve the unique needs of Saskatchewan residents who are equity-deserving. Recipients of the grant should prioritize using an equity lens to recognize the diversity in experience and needs, then create frameworks that respond to concerns that are uncovered. 

“We look at the situation through a lens that focuses on where we need to be and what we want out of the program, as opposed to it being a specific program. We ask ourselves, how are we impacting the community, the youth? With creating inclusive spaces, it is recognizing the individuality of each community and the role that’s going to play in how we define success and what success looks like.”  

The Spark Ideas Grant created the space for Saskatchewan Athletics, through RWAC, to individualize the needs of each community and to look beyond the boundaries of athletics and expand the conversation to include what participants deserve to have as a part of their sport experience. 

The cycle of inclusive space in sport starts with youth and will carry forward as current participants become future leaders. 

“We were able to look at people’s gender identity and what barriers might exist that may impact their participation. With us that comes from our leadership. In the community they’re the ones who are connecting with those who may become coaches and officials.” 

Having the resources to connect and communicate with Saskatchewan’s sport participants is a key factor in the overall success of breaking down barriers surrounding inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility. Working with Saskatchewan Athletics’ system in place, RWAC was able to expand their current communication channels and explore new systems to connect with communities. 

“The grant actually opens up and creates sustainable practices and programming. We are always struggling with things that don’t necessarily meet particular funding areas with a particular grant. People want to pay for certain things, but the grant itself doesn’t recognize the actual components and the functions that it actually takes. It can be just pulling together a Canva account so we can help to promote professional development, so they can make their own posters and develop a communications strategy.” 

“We want to actually imbed the tools and capacities to make sure that it is foundational.” 

Expression of Interest for a second intake of the Spark Ideas Grant is now open and will close March 15.  

To apply, your organization must be an eligible Provincial Sport Organization, Multi-Sport Organization, District for Sport, Culture and Recreation, Tribal Council, FSIN and/or MNS. All previously submitted expressions of interest are being re-evaluated.