When Jrace Rider sat down alongside colleague Brooke Girlando following their brief presentation Monday, the piece of paper in Rider’s hand was littered with scribbles -— each of them a suggestion or contact that came from the audience about how the Boys and Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region could fortify its physical activity program and ultimately help at-risk youth in the region.
Rider and Girlando provided the first of two presentations at the inaugural Spotlight Sessions, which took place at fusespace, the co-working office launched in the downtown headquarters of local sports software solution developer, fusesport.
Starting out, the Spotlight Sessions will take place every other month. They’re billed as a way for those within the health, wellness and sports industries to collaborate, support and network with each other.
“It’s a way to celebrate and amplify the innovative stuff that’s going on here,” said Chris Clark, fusesport founder and a creator of Spotlight Sessions. “We are starting with the local community because there is such a sport focus here — being the Olympic City and such things. Then we’d like to go out to national sports [organizations] and health communities, and maybe reach out internationally as well.”
Clark said fuseport’s involvement with athletics across the globe provides a powerful network.
“We have connections all over the world,” he said. “This is a way of trying to give a voice and exposure to different groups doing really interesting projects. But going beyond that, you see the power of connecting people to those who want to be part of that community and give feedback. … Sometimes the power of one connection or one piece of advice can be an absolute game changer.”
Wants and needs
Following their presentation, Rider and Girlando received advice on how to obtain used equipment for programs, and were also provided with a list of employers who encourage employees to volunteer.
Harris Kalofonos, the evening’s second presenter, provided a profile of the Young Champion Ambassador project, part of the Colorado Springs Sister Cities International program “that aims to engage the Colorado Springs high school and local community, create awareness for the Olympic Movement and strengthen the sister-city connection with Ancient Olympia.”
The program selects a local high school student to represent Colorado Springs in the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece. The organization, which is currently under the umbrella of a 501(c)3, will make its first Olympia visit in May 2016. But Kalofonos and his team said the program could turn into a profit generator if they can grow and bring on sponsorships.
Kalofonos said the program is starting to receive some funding, including a $30,000 grant from a Japanese national governing body.
He told the audience the Young Champion Ambassador program has the structure it needs to grow — but more than anything else, it needs capital.
Following his presentation, Kalofonos received audience feedback about the potential challenges of moving the program to a for-profit model, as well as avoiding charging fees to students submitting essays. He also received ideas about scaling the program going forward and suggestions were offered on how to modernize student essays, to include videos.
‘A global scale’
Rider, following her presentation, said the experience was beneficial.
“I do think it was helpful. We got a couple leads about programs I haven’t heard of. I have some research to do,” she said, adding she would like to attend future events.
“I would be down to come and offer advice and my own connections, or even present on something different.”
Alec Gardner, founder of Vitality Marketing at fusespace, helped coordinate the event and said there will likely be several Spotlight Session models in the future — to include product or service pitch nights and events that would pair mentors with those just starting within their industry.
“We’d love to have a community-centered approach,” he said. “We want to have a lot of different events that bring people together in the sports, health and fitness space. … We felt like there weren’t a lot of options for people in this space to get together unless it was around Olympic events. We want to provide a space for everyone in the industry … to gather and get to know each other.”
Clark said, due to the immense sports and wellness presence in Colorado Springs, the potential for national and international networking at future Spotlight Sessions is high.
“I anticipate those national connections,” he said. “Colorado Springs is a hub for the industry nationally, so their are those in the industry passing through here all the time. But we’re also known internationally.
“That’s something that’s kind of forgotten about in Colorado Springs: It is an international brand in sport. It’s important on the global scale.”