Sitting volleyball 1
Ollivier Dyens, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) sets the ball during a sitting volleyball match.
Photo: Neale McDevitt

By Neale McDevitt

“The funny thing about sitting volleyball is you stand up when you want to rest,” says Ollivier Dyens with a chuckle. “Less funny were the blisters I got on my hands from using them to move around on the floor.”

Dyens, the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) was one of about 25 people who took part in a sitting volleyball clinic on Oct. 4 as part of McGill’s second annual Community Engagement Day (CED). The session, a joint production between the University’s Physical and Occupational Therapy Undergraduate Society and the Association Sportif de la Centre-Sud, gave participants the opportunity to learn the basics of sitting volleyball – a popular Paralympics sport.

“It was a fantastic experience because it makes you realize that there are other ways to play sports. And even though we were all real amateurs, things got very competitive,” said Dyens. “It was a real eye-opener.”

Sitting volleyball was just one of the 44 programs that were held over the course of CED, a collaboration between a host of partners that include the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE), the Students’ Society of McGill University, the Sustainability Projects Fund, the Quartier d’Innovation, and Student Housing and Hospitality Services.

CED promotes existing initiatives which connect McGill with Montreal community organizations by giving students, staff, faculty and alumni the opportunity to volunteer their time and learn about the social issues that these organizations address.

The range of activities offered by CED 2013 included everything from learning American Sign Language and performing a piece of theatre using only signs, to pitching in to sort and carry antique wood panels of the historic Griffintown Horse Palace in an effort to preserve the city’s oldest urban stable.

While most activities took place on Friday, Oct. 4, organizers spread out CED over four days at venues across McGill and Montreal in order to make it more accessible to people.

And, boy, did it work. In all, some 609 people registering for CED – more than double last year’s total.

But as impressive as the numbers were, Anurag Dhir, Community Engagement Coordinator at SEDE, says the importance of CED goes beyond a mere head count. “We hope that any new relationships that have been established with community groups will continue. The whole point of this event was not to be a one-off but to be a catalyst for further engagement,” he says. “Ideally people’s eyes have been opened not just to the organizations but also to the systemic issues that make these organizations necessary.”

Read the full article in the McGill Reporter.



October 15, 2013