Top of the First

INTRODUCTION TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

Did you know? Annually, there are approximately 160,000 children aged 5 to 18 registered for Baseball Canada and Little League Canada programs across the country. Of that group, approximately 10% identify as girls, 6% as racial minorities, 5% as children/youth with disabilities and 3% as receiving financial assistance to pay registration fees.

Over the past two years, most baseball and softball associations have adopted new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies in response to growing awareness across the country regarding inequity and racism. While these policies are designed to help make associations more inclusive, the training and tools required to turn this into practice are hard to find. The Toronto Blue Jays, Jays Care Foundation, Anima Leadership, and Dr. Janelle Joseph have teamed up to develop and offer Top of the First - the first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certification Program for coaches, administrators, programmers, and adult volunteers.

This is a certification program that offers a combination of training, tools, and professional development credits to coaches, league administrators, officials, and adult volunteers. This program equips participants with clear action plans, tools, and enhanced skills for creating more equitable, inclusive, and accessible programming.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to start the process for diversifying your leagues and organizations
  • How to look internally at your own systems and processes and understand your greatest gaps and best first steps
  • How to increase your awareness and confidence in ways to create more inclusive and safe practices, games, workshops, and meetings for diverse populations
  • Where to find local advocates or organizations that can provide information and support to overcome key barriers marginalized communities currently face
  • Steps for updating and revising your program materials (emails, recruitment tools, handbooks, and advertisements) so they speak to a more diverse audience and uphold your values of equity

How it works:

Sign up using the links below and you will have access to a series of FREE practical virtual workshops to learn and connect around ways to make your programming more accessible to communities facing barriers.

Virtual workshops are divided up into 1.5-hour sessions conducted live by Jays Care Foundation and Blue Jays Baseball Academy staff. You have the option of interacting and participating live with audio and video. While this is not required, active participation is highly encouraged.

Upon completion of the workshops, participants will be provided access to an online toolkit and certification portal. The toolkit includes resources and templates that can be adapted for use by your association. A certificate from the Toronto Blue Jays is provided upon completion of a short on-line learning assessment.

This certification is a joint project by the Toronto Blue Jays, Jays Care Foundation, Anima Leadership, and Dr. Janelle Joseph. The design process included input and feedback from many program leaders including: Baseball Canada; Little League Canada; and, Softball Canada. We are grateful for the time and energy that our partners working in diverse communities have provided to this program.

JOIN US!

Top of The First is offered in two different streams. The first stream has been specifically designed for league administrators and organizers and the second stream has been tailored for coaches, mentors and officials. Please note that we have a capacity limit for each session. If we reach capacity, we may reach out to suggest an alternate date.

League Administrators and Organizers

Those in a governance role within a baseball or softball association, including but not limited to: executive staff, league staff, volunteers, registrars and board members are encouraged to register for the three, 1.5 hour sessions below. The Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation are pleased to provide this introductory course free of charge. Completing all three workshops and on-line learning assessments leads to official certification.

Relationship Building Workshop

DateTime
Tuesday, February 226:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, February 238:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, February 286:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, March 28:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, April 196:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, April 218:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, April 256:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, April 278:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, May 36:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, May 58:00pm – 9:30pm EST

Interrupting Exclusion Workshop

DateTime
Tuesday, March 156:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, March 178:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, March 216:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, March 238:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, May 96:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, May 118:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, May 176:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, May 198:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, May 236:00pm – 7:30pm EST

Registration link will be provided upon completion of Relationship Building Workshop

Diversifying Recruitment Workshop

DateTime
Tuesday, April 56:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, April 78:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, April 116:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, April 138:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Wednesday, May 258:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, May 316:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, June 28:00pm – 9:30pm EST

Registration link will be provided upon completion of Interrupting Exclusion Workshop

Coaches, Mentors, and Officials

Coaches, officials or parents of youth baseball and softball players are encouraged to register for the two, 1.5 hour workshops below. The Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation are pleased to provide this introductory course free of charge. Completing both workshops and on-line learning assessments leads to official certification.

Relationship Building Workshop

DateTime
Tuesday, February 226:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, February 238:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, February 286:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, March 28:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, April 196:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, April 218:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, April 256:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, April 278:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, May 36:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, May 58:00pm – 9:30pm EST

Interrupting Exclusion Workshop

DateTime
Tuesday, March 156:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, March 178:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, March 216:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, March 238:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, May 96:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Wednesday, May 118:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Tuesday, May 176:00pm – 7:30pm EST
Thursday, May 198:00pm – 9:30pm EST
Monday, May 236:00pm – 7:30pm EST

Registration link will be provided upon completion of Relationship Building Workshop

ABOUT JAYS CARE FOUNDATION

Jays Care Foundation uses baseball to teach life skills and create lasting social change for youth in historically under-resourced communities across Canada. The organization works in all ten provinces and two territories, impacting over 65,000 children and youth annually. The Foundation works with several groups that face pronounced opportunity gaps: children living at or below the poverty line; children living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities; Indigenous children and youth; and, girls without access to sport. Jays Care also invests in the creation and refurbishment of baseball diamonds, providing youth with safe spaces to play and learn.

The Toronto Blue Jays were named the 2020 recipient of the Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence, recognizing the organization’s “Blue Jays Community Commitment,” which supported thousands of families disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

ABOUT ANIMA LEADERSHIP

ABOUT DR. JANELLE JOSEPH

Dr. Janelle Joseph is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto and Founder/Director of the Indigeneity, Diaspora, Equity, and Anti-racism in Sport (IDEAS) Research Lab. Dr Joseph’s research includes three books related to race and sport.

ABOUT BLUE JAYS BASEBALL ACADEMY

The Blue Jays Baseball Academy are committed to supporting the development of young people's lifelong connection with baseball across Canada.

CONTACT INFORMATION

For any questions about the certification program please contact the Blue Jays Baseball Academy at 416-341-2500 or email at [email protected].

ADDITIONAL WORKSHOPS

The Toronto Blue Jays and Jays Care Foundation have teamed up with a variety of experts to offer a series of practical and experiential virtual workshops and certificates that can help:

Workshop to enhance tools and strategies for making leagues more inclusive and accessible for girls.

Workshop to enhance tools and strategies for making leagues more inclusive and accessible for athletes with disabilities.

Workshop to enhance tools and strategies for making leagues more trauma-informed.

Who is eligible to attend these workshops: Any administrator, coach, official or volunteer who supports a baseball or softball league or association who wants to create a safer and more inclusive sports landscape.

What participants receive: free dynamic training workshop, certificate, a series of tools to support their league (recruitment tools, coaching cards, handbooks, etc.).