Start-up works to keep athletes safe

RWII promotes safety, protection and sportsmanship for youth

Illustration by Kathleen Bergen

People might play sports for leisure and enjoyment, but should also take safety precautions, since they’re at risk of injuries. A Manitoba Health report says that falls or collisions during sports are a main cause for hospitalization for those under 20 years old.

The Run With It Initiative (RWII), a start-up organization headed by students in the entrepreneurship program at Red River College, is taking on the challenge of informing and teaching the public how to appropriately handle situations where quick decisions need to be made. This could include breaking an ankle, suffering a concussion or fainting during a game.

Through their workshops, the RWII Initiative hopes to teach parents, coaches, teachers, athletes and those directly involved with sports how to better ensure player safety and deal with any injuries. They are currently focusing their efforts around hockey, basketball and soccer.

“We’re offering them a forum where they can come and ask active questions where they can be a part of something (bigger) than themselves, possibly,” Allie Bednarz, an RWII founder, says.

According to the department of Canadian Heritage and Sport Canada, sports and other physical activities are the main reason people aged 10 to 18 end up in the emergency room. Concussions are a serious but commonly seen injury in several sports.

Studies done by Dr. Laura Purcell from McMaster University in Ontario show that temporary loss of brain function caused by concussions can lead to mental, emotional and physical changes, such as mental lapses, moodiness and nausea.

Dr. Charles Tator from the University of Toronto says that a quarter of concussion patients can experience long-term symptoms, including depression, that can last for years.

Sabrina Sankar, RWII board member,  says she hopes the organization is able to establish itself in the community in terms of what they provide, and she hopes to partner with a variety of high school programs, as well as Hockey Manitoba, Sport Manitoba and other organizations.

At their first fundraiser on Jan. 13, 2018 at the Four Crowns Bar and Grill, RWII donated a portion of their profits to the Tyler Townsend’s Pay it Forward Fund, which helps several non-profit organizations around the city, such as Siloam Mission.

“Tyler was very involved in sports and as a kid, he grew up playing every sport that he could, and I wanted to give back to them because they’re giving back to local Winnipeg kids … so they can perform at their best,” best," Sankar says.

Through their fundraisers, RWII is able to promote sportsmanship and security while subsidizing certain costs for those who cannot afford it.

“I think Winnipeg requires an organization like this because sports will never stop growing,” Bednarz says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 25, 2018)

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