Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ACTIVATE Youth Leadership Conference

This past week I had the honor and privilege of conducting a leadership development seminar to a group of volunteer leaders that were delegates of the ACTIVATE Youth Leadership Forum. 

ACTIVATE is a national youth leadership program that aims to inspire and support the youth-led development and delivery of sport and active recreational programs in communities across Canada, while facilitating youth engagement and leadership in the process.

The program takes an innovative approach to fulfilling Motivate Canada’s Youth-Driven Development framework by creating a constantly expanding network of youth leaders that can spread their knowledge and empowerment to other youth.  I found the group to be personally inspiring and I immensely enjoyed my time hearing about the programs and ideas they were looking at instituting in their respective communities all across Ontario. 

 ACTIVATE Ontario 2012 Conference 

Given the nature of the program and the magnitude of the initiatives they were about to undertake, I felt that the topic of CHANGE was an appropriate one to discuss with the group.  Since leaders are the ones who help drive change, it only made sense that we broke down its six key components and discuss some of the things they could do as leaders to support the change process. 

They were a wonderful group to present to with a lot of good energy but more importantly, they all were highly motivated to give back to their communities through the development of programs and projects that would have an impact and make a difference on the next generation of leaders after them.

As they individually shared what they intended on doing when they returned to their respective homes, I couldn't help but be in awe of what I was listening to.  Their drive, sense of responsibility and passion for wanting to bring about change brought a sense of comfort over me on the drive back home.  Knowing that these youth would be the next wave of leaders responsible for moving our society forward left me feeling excited about what the future has in store.

Congratulations to all of you! 

See you on the court! 
Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman 

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Friday, August 10, 2012

The World Doesn’t Stop When Bad Things Happen So Why Should You?

As a lifelong follower of basketball and avid hoops fan, I've come to appreciate the important life lessons the game has to offer. When I was a teenager, I religiously followed the on court exploits of players like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson not realizing that the benefits would be more than just entertainment.

The life lessons of persevering through adversity, determination and hope were glaringly obvious when my eldest daughter, Vanessa became involved with organized basketball.  It provided me with a great opportunity to teach what I learned.  She was about nine years old when she started and played until her mid teens. As a “basketball dad”, I naturally was excited that she gravitated to a game that I loved. Despite this, I made a point of making it clear that the decision to start or stop was always hers to make.

During the practices, I used to sit on the sidelines and observe with the other parents as her coaches ran through various drills and plays. Despite knowing the game well enough to coach, I didn’t interfere with whatever instruction given by her coaches. I played a support role and left the “real coaching” for the car rides to and from practices and games. I remember one instance when Vanessa wasn’t feeling particularly well and experienced severe cramping just before practice started. I gave her the option of skipping out and taking a break but she insisted on going.

She got to about the half way mark when the pain of the cramping intensified and I noticed Vanessa really started to struggle and was moving significantly slower than her teammates.

Her inability to keep up slowed down the practice considerably and I could sense the agitation level in her coach rising. He perceived it as “lack of effort” or not trying on her part. My natural instinct as a parent was jump in pull her out of the situation and take her home but I held back and decided it would be best to let the situation play itself out.

At one point, Vanessa gingerly jogged by me during one of the drills with tears in her eyes. As I offered her water, I gave her the option of calling it quits. She declined and pushed on.

Her coach became infuriated and abruptly ended practice citing lack of effort by a "particular individual" as the reason. Vanessa was pretty upset during the “car ride” home and the tears flowed profusely the moment the door slammed shut. I have to admit that as I was consoling her, I was extremely curious about why she insisted on continuing forward with practice despite the obvious pain so I asked. She responded by simply saying, “I didn’t want to quit”.

Vanessa learned a very important lesson that day in perseverance and as a parent I couldn’t be any more thrilled. You see, the ability to fight the tough times is a skill that all children will need as they progress through their personal journey into adulthood and the earlier they’re equipped and understand its importance, the better.

One of the hard realities of life is that there will be days when things won’t go our way and you're going to want to quit.  Take heart in the fact that persevering through adversity and demonstrating resiliency will be the difference maker between you reaching your goals or not.  

I recently had an opportunity to listen to the incredible story of Kevin Rempel who's a member of Sledge Team Canada. You see, it was Kevin's dream to be a pro dirt bike racer but after an accident in 2002 that saw him fall from a height of nearly 30 feet, he became a paraplegic.

Despite being told by the doctors that he too would never walk again, Kevin wasn’t willing to take that answer. After months of intense therapy, he got back out of the wheelchair and back on his bike. In just one year, he kicked it over and went riding again.

His sledge hockey team has their eyes on  a gold medal from the next Paralympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014!  

Congratulations Kevin!

You can read more about Kevin's inspiring story by visiting his website.

Being resilient means bouncing back despite the number of times you've been pushed down and believe me, you will get pushed but at the end of the day you have the final call as to how far you'll end up because  nothing is truly over unless you believe it is.

The world doesn’t stop when bad things happen so why should you?

See you on the court!

Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman

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