October 21, 2015
Last weekend social workers from across the country gathered in Denver for the Council on Social Work Education’s national conference. MSU Denver’s Department of Social Work seized on that opportunity, co-organizing and hosting a pre-conference forum called Social Work in Sports 2015. The daylong event brought together more than 75 social work educators and practitioners who are engaged in both social work practice and sports.
“The forum focused on a variety of aspects of social work practice,” said department chair Christian Itin, “from mental health and behavioral health to domestic violence and family relationships with athletes from childhood through professional and post-professional practice, including collegiate athletes.”
The event also served as a showcase for the University’s social work and athletics programs. Held at the new Regency Athletic Complex at MSU Denver, it featured multiple MSU Denver faculty, staff and alumni as presenters. An afternoon panel brought together former social work professor Larry Curry, Ph.D., recent alumnus and retired Denver Bronco Tyrone Braxton (M.S.W. '14); and Associate Athletic Director and former trainer for the Broncos and Nuggets Jim Gillen. Alumnus Jamal T. Jackson, a counselor for student-athletes in Aurora Public Schools, also spoke at the event. Most of the TED-Talk-style presentations were filmed and will be available online in the coming weeks.
“The forum was a great opportunity to gain new perspective about an emerging area of social work, to hear from local and national experts and to network with professionals in the field,” said student Megan Al-Yasiry, president of the Student Association of Social Workers at MSU Denver. The group co-sponsored the forum and was involved with planning and coordinating logistics.
Other sponsors included the University of South Carolina College of Social Work and the University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Social Work.
“Hosting academic conferences related to innovative practice reflects positively on our mission and the values of our program,” Itin noted. “We also seek to engage our students in practices that are grounded in the community and meet the many needs of the populations we serve. Sports is one of the ways that communities express their hopes and desires. Young people often engage in sports as a vehicle for transforming their lives and potentially their economic standing. As social workers we are in an important position to both help people find the value of sport and address the challenges that result for some from being an athlete.”
Beyond the forum, MSU Denver also had a major presence at the CSWE’s national conference. Several faculty members presented their work and the department sponsored the attendance of 15 students. The department co-hosted a reception with other local MSW programs at the History Colorado Center.
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