In 2019, the first group of students taking part in the Courts for Change project raised funds to travel and build a basketball court in Longido, a rural village in Longido, Tanzania. COVID-19 has put that project group on hold. We remain in contact with the community in Longido and look forward to travelling to complete our work when international travel restrictions open.
In 2020, we are focusing on developing Canadian partners for our Courts for Change course. The Haida Community of Masset, British Columbia and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation of Mayo, Yukon are working together with Carleton Varsity Athletes and students from the Sprott School of Business to work on projects related to community sport and wellness.
Courts for Change will engage with our partner communities in Masset and Mayo on two sport related projects this year:
Virtual Sports Training: The goal of the project is to engage the two communities and facilitate leadership development and learning through sport. During the COVID-19, many young student athletes in both communities are struggling to stay connected and engaged to their sport. This project will allow the students to lead a fun, creative project connected to the sport they enjoy. They will be exposed to excellent coaching and a supportive community of athletes. A team of students will be responsible for meeting and co-designing sessions that run in Feb 2021 online. These could take the form of weekly training sessions, or a mini camp that is co taught by the student Design Team. When designing their programs, they will have access to coaches and athletes in both communities. For example, if the Design Team would like to have a coach from our basketball program do a video session or demonstrate drills over zoom to a team or small group.
Community Co-Creation Art Project: This year, the students will collaborate on fixing an outdoor sport court in either in our partner communities or Ottawa. Here is a sample project that will be modified to our context (https://projectbackboard.org/capacity). The students work with local artists to repair and beautify a court in a way that reflects the pride of the community and love of sport. Our goal is to complete this project remotely in 2021 and allow the students to travel when travel restrictions end. The project will be ongoing and if we can have good success in 2021 the hope is that we could have athletes and coaches from our partner communities travel to Carleton to participate in training programs, camps, and projects designed to enhance sport facilities (post covid-19!).
Because we cannot make our trip to work in our communities this year, making face-to-face contact with the community impossible, high quality distance communication with community, and local decision makers has become crucial. Funds will be used to acquire low-bandwidth augmented reality communications technology that includes 3d manipulation capability to enable us to continue working with the communities in Masset and Mayo. An augmented reality context is being developed to this end with the Carleton Department of Computer Science. We will be acquiring VR headsets for both Carleton and the communities we are working with. These headsets will remain available for student to use in future years. Funds will also be used for prototype modification and testing, market data acquisition, patent searches, and related material costs to take our innovations to reality.
In addition to supporting our virtual training program, the group will be raising money to support the community Co-Creation Art Project. Funds will be used to hire a local artist to work with students and for materials to repair and beautify the community sport court.
Together, these Canadian based projects have great potential to create positive change both here at Carleton and in our partner communities. The impact of our projects will enhance community health and wellness through sports and recreation. In addition, all of these projects are scalable, adaptable to other contexts facing the same issues in both neighbouring regions and other parts of the world.
The student experience will be impactful in a number of ways. Students will learn creative thinking, perspective taking, collaboration, and communication in a culturally diverse setting. Working in a first nations context, students will learn to take a sustainable approach to developing products and services for their project, considering the impact on culture, community, and the environment as well as the economic needs of impacted stakeholders.
The interdisciplinary nature of the project also has tremendous benefits for connecting our school and different learning disciplines. Varsity athletes are selected from a variety of disciplines and partnered with students from the Sprott School of Business, Neuroscience, and Industrial Design. Each of these upper year students brings valuable expertise and experience to the project. Connected through sport and community development, the project work will give our students a unique and challenging learning experience different from a normal course.
Because this course focuses on real world projects that will be designed and implemented with our partners, our students gain valuable real world experience that will help connect their in class learning to projects that they are passionate about, demonstrating that they can make an impact on both their local and global community.