More often then not youth are pulled into our world, expected to act as adults according to our rules and our terms. One could argue that the youth benefit from this, helping to prepare them for the “real world,” but what happens when we are pulled into their world? Fun and laughter, barriers are broken, conversations are had, bonds are formed and if even just for that one day, all involved are better for it.
Dodgeball… it’s a game that either brings much excitement or a whole lot of anxiety. For many people they have a love-hate relationship with the game. On Friday March 30, I saw eight teams come together, each consisting of youth, corporate adults and an Edmonton Police member.
You might assume that throwing youth, corporate adults and Edmonton Police members together would result in very little cross peer communication. I can say with absolute certainty, that given the right environment, the exact opposite happens. High fives become contagious, bonds begin to form, and the dance battles commence. Yes, I said dance battles, not just between the youth but entire teams! The running man, shopping cart and the worm all made quite the impression.
Every year the corporate adults tell us how fun the youth are, the youth tell us how cool the adults are and the officers tell us that it was a great way to connect with the community. It gives everyone an opportunity to view others as individuals rather than just faceless stereotypes, and offers the opportunity for their views to be challenged by people who care about the well-being of the community. I have worked front line with youth in Edmonton for the last few years and over that time I have heard some very candid opinions of police officers and adults. UDODGE introduces youth to a different more rounded perspective.
Are we changing the world with a dodgeball tournament? No, probably not, but we are changing a few perspectives, the perspectives of youth and adults. And I think you can agree with me when I say that changing perspectives is the first step to changing the world.
UDODGE isn’t about how well you can catch or throw, duck or dive - it’s about realizing that the youth in our community need us just as much as we need them and realizing that if we listen, as much as we talk, meaningful communication occurs.
Jenn Dermott, Program Coordinator, Discovery, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region