Dare to Care completes bully prevention pilot program
Calgary, AB – Dare to Care has completed a bully prevention in sport pilot program in
partnership with the University of Calgary (UCalgary) Swim Club. The pilot program
involved face-to-face comprehensive training, targeting youth amateur athletes and the
adults who support them. The pilot program was funded by the Calgary Foundation and
the Calgary Booster Club and was the first of its kind in Calgary. The pilot kicked off in
September 2017 and measured noticeable changes in bully behaviors and related
attitudes among athletes and their supporters – to overwhelming positive results.
“Bullying is a societal problem and can only be disrupted when solutions engage
everyone involved,” said Dare to Care’s Founder and Executive Director, Lisa DixonWells.
“In North America, 70 percent of amateur athletes quit organized sport by the age
of 13. According to youth, the mass exodus can be attributed to factors such as a ‘win at
all cost’ sport culture, and when athletes must endure constant criticism from coaches or
parents. Left unchecked, youth who are bullied, and those who are bullies, are at
increased risk of depression and suicide.”
The bully prevention pilot program involved 97 percent of UCalgary Swim Club athletes,
parents, coaches, officials, and staff. Each received face-to-face training that
empowered athletes to effectively identify, prevent, report, and respond to bullying.
The result was a 75 percent reduction in written complaints of bulling compared to the
previous year, and any complaints brought forward were quickly resolved without the
need for a formal investigation. Further positive outcomes resulting from the pilot
• 97 percent of the athlete’s parents reported that the training improved their
awareness, knowledge, and skills to help prevent or respond to bullying and
• 90 percent of the athlete’s parents identified that Dare to Care training helped
bring about positive behavior changes in the athletes, coaches, and parents.
• 83 percent of parents said that the training caused positive changes in their
understanding about bullying, and their behavior.
• 100 percent of athletes in the 16 – 24 age group insisted that the Dare to Care
program should be offered every year.
Carl Simonson, University of Calgary Swim Club Assistant Head Coach was both
surprised and pleased by the result of the pilot program, “If I had known the massive
impact a three hour training session was going to have – I would have done this years
“The qualities that make an athlete successful in their chosen sport – aggressiveness,
strong drive, determination, physical stamina – can also contribute to negative dynamics
between athletes in their training and competition. If left unaddressed they can evolve
into patterns of interaction such as bullying and harassment, and adversely affect the
mental strength of the athletes involved,” said Dr. Carol Malec, University of Calgary
Swim Club board representative. “It was important that UCSC tackle this issue head on
to ensure our athletes are able to focus their physical and mental energy on setting
goals and achieving their personal best, and leverage the full experience of our worldclass
“The beauty of sport is the countless health benefits it offers for people of all ages and
from every background. Every person, in every role, in every sport has the right to
expect a fun, safe, and healthy environment. Bullying denies participants of this right and
can rob athletes of their athletic performance, enjoyment, and physical and mental
wellness. Dare to Care’s entry into sport is a positive contribution toward a bully-free
sport experience for amateur youth athletes. Sport Calgary is proud to support this pilot
project and its future growth throughout amateur sport,” said Catriona Le May Doan,
Olympic Champion and Sport Calgary Senior Director of Community and Sport
Dare to Care is a Canadian charitable non-profit organization and Canada’s most
comprehensive and practical bully prevention program. Professionally facilitated bully
prevention programs enable schools, sport organizations, community groups, and
workplaces to mobilize and maintain a caring community for youth to thrive in life,
learning and play. Dare to Care was awarded the 2016 Government of Alberta
Inspiration Award for Leadership in Bully Prevention.
The Dare to Care bully prevention in sport pilot program was made possible by the
generous funding of the Calgary Foundation and the Calgary Booster Club.
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