April 30th, 2016
Why Dodgeball?: How A Tournament Helps Build Connectedness and Belonging
Neighbourhood-based work is a quirky thing. It can be hard to determine effectiveness. In a world where there are terms like Return on Investment and Key Performance Indicators, a free community event for people within a specific neighbourhood can seem inconsequential. Except, time and again, it is in the simplicity of sharing common interests, experiences and spaces that lead to great levels of connectedness and feelings of belonging. Here at Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region, we are in the business of connectedness and belonging. These two experiences, touchstones for living a full and good life, are tangible outcomes we desire to help foster and encourage in our communities. For all. In each and every role here at Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region, we strive to meet individuals and their families where they are at, and ask simply, “How can we support you in your journey to connectedness and belonging”. Whether it is a coordinator who visits a family’s home and helps them explore how to spend ministry dollars, or a WALES facilitator who asks an individual what personal goals they would like to pursue, or myself in my neighbourhood role, where I ask individuals and their families, “How would you like to be known and valued in your own community?” All different paths to the same experience – inherent value as a person to give and to receive in ways that are reciprocal.
So, why dodgeball? Why not? An individual who is supported by Extend-A-Family Waterloo Region is an avid fan of the sport and wanted to help organize a tournament. In connecting him to another individual, who is really keen to meet neighbours and is happy to promote an event that invites people to come together and get to know one another, we have the makings of a pretty awesome organizing committee. Involve a local community centre, some city staff, another resident of the community who has experience organizing tournaments within the city, and all of a sudden, a random idea seems pretty great. Better still, it simply is one small part of a growing story of informal community events and gatherings that engage people to get to know one another.
So, in asking why dodgeball, I repeat, “Why not?” Perhaps we can have a neighbourhood picnic next, or an inter-generational art group, or a street party, or a homework club, or whatever else some person from the community thinks he or she would like to help make a reality. In neighbourhood, it matters little why we come together. We just need to gather and let the connectedness take over. And that is what it means to belong.
For now, though, register yourself here and join us on May 29th for some dodgeball.
About Kim Sproul