Healing Through Sport

sport and trauma workshopPlay Rugby USA was invited to participate as thought partners in the first ever workshop on sport & trauma, at the 28th Annual Psychological Trauma Conference in Boston, MA. Play Rugby USA was honored to be among its peers in the Sports-Based Youth Development (SBYD) sector, (Memphis Grizzlies Foundation, Soccer without Borders, and others).

The workshop featured experts from Up2Us Sports, Edgework Consulting and the Justice Resource Institute. Up2Us Sports and Edgework Consulting have both been driving the SBYD field toward increased capacity to deliver impact by codifying training for coaches and enhancing program design toward Social Emotional Learning (SEL) outcomes. Justice Resource Institute (JRI) have established themselves as leaders in trauma informed systems, with over 100 diverse programs meeting the needs of underserved individuals, families and communities.

Through their work, these 3 organizations have revealed an opportunity to bring an established field of trauma treatment with social workers, counselors, therapists, and other mental health clinicians together with the fledgling field of SBYD, including coaches, program managers, facilitators, and mentors. Their workshop was titled: “Harnessing the Competitive Spirit: Physical Activity, Trauma-Sensitive Coaching & League-Level Play with Traumatized Youth Around the World.”

The common thread throughout the day was the belief – or the seeds of a belief for some clinicians – that sport is a viable and a unique medium to promote healing in individuals impacted by trauma. The capacity of sport to heal trauma is now being discussed by practitioners in both fields, and this workshop was a small, yet symbolically large, first step. The conference also presented the opportunity for sport & trauma to establish a presence in its own right, to serve as a common language, a set of principles, in essence, a foundation. The foundation has been set and now there are opportunities to continue to grow the collaboration across fields to provide pathways to healing that all youth with trauma deserve.

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