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The Belonging in Bowls program is a great way to develop as well as get great rewards like marketing resources to help you promote your club! We interviewed three clubs who have finished the program for their thoughts and experiences. The first interview is with Preston Lawn Bowling Club.

  1. Can you provide an example of how your club used or implemented the Safe Sport Foundation program (can be in general, or specific to one component of the program)?  

Our city, Cambridge Ontario, puts on a 50+ Active Living Fair Annually. Preston Lawn Bowling club participates in this event to tell guests about the club and invites them to come out and give lawn bowls a try. We proudly display the Certificate of Achievement and tell people that our members sign the Safe Sport Pledge yearly. We also have a copy of the certificate on our information board immediately inside the door to remind our members, and to tell potential new members, that we are a welcoming, safe, and inclusive club. The suite of policies is available in the members section of our website to set clear expectations of behavior at PLBC.

On our website, we also have the following message: The Preston Lawn Club is an inclusive facility that caters to all ages, families, and gender. We emphasize providing accessible grounds to our facilities with staff always available to help. We take health and safety seriously. The club follows Bowls Canada’s guidelines and are now Safe Sport Certified.

2. What were some of the benefits that you experienced during or after completing the program? 

Our club found benefit in the detailed policy templates. We were able to make small adjustments to customize each to meet the needs of PLBC. After completing the program, we found there is very little room for interpretation within our policy suite, thereby providing members with a clear description of acceptable behaviour and what will happen if issues arise.

3. In your opinion, what were 2-3 of the most important learnings or outcomes of the BiB program?

We hadn’t really thought about the possibility of litigation in a sporting club; but rather a place you go for fun. Through the process, I can see how this could happen. Being proactive is to have a process in place and showing the exact steps that need to be taken and by whom. The help with this, the roles and responsibilities for the club and board members are now clearly outlined in our policies.  

Volunteers and coaches may be afraid of these new policies and procedures, but they now know about and follow the Rule of Two by having others around when coaching; members are protected by not being alone with a coach. 

4. What were some challenges you encountered while working through the BiB program, and how did you overcome them?  

While it was wonderful to have the templates for each of the Policies, the legalese was, at times, difficult. Our board wanted to do a good job of customizing them to meet our club’s specific needs; to get the wording just right, and that did take time. Our board was all in on this project, so we worked together to understand and produce the best Foundation we were capable of creating. While the board members who worked on it are aware of the content but few members read through it or found it too long/too much jargon. 

5. Did you use the rewards (marketing material, services, etc.) that were provided at the completion of each level in the program? If yes, how so?   

We’ve hired tech support, so we haven’t used the rewards available to us. But we plan to soon!  

6. What is one piece of advice you would give to clubs starting or currently working through the program?   

Level 1 is very quick and easy to accomplish. Level 2, with the Code of Conduct, and Level 3, with the Policy Suite, takes much more time. So don’t get overwhelmed – set attainable goals. 

We started trying to review 2 policies per month. It became clear that we were getting overwhelmed. Tackling just one policy per month and taking a little longer to finish, was a better plan for us. By setting an attainable goal we were able to “hang in” and complete the Safe Sport Foundation! 

Write a one-page summary of the info for all members to read. All that members really need to know that the goal is to have a safe, inclusive, welcoming, and fun environment and if anyone feels that it is not, there is a process available for dealing with issues. 

7. Now that you have completed the program, what does Safe Sport mean to your club and members? 

We’ve been told that people like to come to our club because it is friendly. Having the Safe Sport Certification tells everyone that we will all make the effort to ensure that visitors and members alike feel welcomed, and we’ll do our best to provide a good experience at our facility.

8. In your opinion, was the BiB Safe Sport Foundation program helpful in creating or reinforcing a safe, inclusive, welcoming, and fun environment at your club? If yes, how so?    

I feel we were in a good space before the Safe Sport program. It all comes down to people, their personalities, and their motivation. However, the Safe Sport Foundation required us to designate a safety officer, which we did. And signing the Pledge each year reminds us of our promise to be welcoming and accepting. Members and potential members can expect to feel welcome and included.

Become a Belonging in Bowls Champion by promoting your club as fun, safe and welcoming !

The Safe Sport Foundation promotes the sport of Bowls as a welcoming, inclusive, safe, and fun game for all by encouraging clubs to implement policies, procedures, and practices that align. BCB has created templates that your club can easily use and/or customize. The program also helps your club develop through resources such as promotional and marketing material and consultations with Bowls Canada staff. The program begins with the Safe Sport Foundation, which has 3 levels and by completing simple steps toward being a safer and more inclusive club, your club can receive professionally developed social media posts and ads, a credit to boost these ads, and a promotional video and radio ad to attract new participants to their club. 

Visit this page or to register your club in the program, go to Register your Club Here

Please feel free to contact Samantha Burelle at sburelle@bowlscanada.com if you have any questions.

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