Dear friends,

As most of you know, I have been involved with what is now being referred to as the “Safe Sport movement” since 1996. Almost 24 years, half of my life! In my mind, the “movement” began in 1996/1997 when Hockey Canada made the bold decision to mandate SPEAK OUT training for all coaches. Having been involved in that process, I can only look back and marvel at the courage and leadership that took.

In 2004, Wayne and I founded Respect Group. We believed that prevention education for all coaches, in all sports, could be simplified and consistent standards conveyed through on-line learning. Back then, very few sport organizations wanted to talk about the issues we represented nor was e-learning an accepted mode of delivery. There were many lonely moments.

In 2006, Sport Manitoba and Gymnastics Canada made their own bold decision to mandate Respect in Sport. In the case of Sport Manitoba, it was every coach in every sport in the province. In Gymnastics, it was every Canadian gymnastics coach. Another milestone in the “Safe Sport movement”.

Fast forward to 2019. Respect Group now delivers multiple programs to educate all sport stakeholders, has certified over 1.25M Canadians, partnered with hundreds of sport organizations, including 45 NSOs and the IOC, employs 35 incredible team members who share our passion and we have received our B Corp accreditation.

I am truly proud of these accomplishments but one thing really stands out; the relationship we have with each of you, sport leaders in the truest sense. You have entrusted us with your most valued asset, your membership, and we do not take that for granted. When you are trying to change culture, together, it can be a slippery slope. Any misstep; compromised quality, failure of technology/database management, poor service or bad communication can take you backwards.

I am most proud of the fact that we have weathered this social change in unison and, through our refreshing collaboration, created safer, more respectful sport environments for all Canadian kids!  Yes, there is more to be done but, let me pause, just briefly, to extend my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to share in this journey with you. THANK YOU and may the journey continue!

Sheldon Kennedy