The Pan/Parapan Am Games already focuses on improving the health through lifestyle choices. The focus of Playing for Keeps is on social capital rather than lifestyle. They define social capital as the social networks and connections of diverse individuals and groups with shared values and assets. And it includes the socioeconomic, cultural and environmental factors that are often just as important, if not more, for health (also known as the social determinants of health). The initial activity of the design workshop was to develop principles around aspects of social capital, including belonging, diversity, values and norms, citizen power, networks, trust and safety, reciprocity, and participation. These are all things that are valuable to communities but difficult to measure and complex to address.
Playing for Keeps is ambitious and aspiring to tackle some really wicked issues in our society. I hope that they make positive change by harnessing the potential of the Pan/Parapan American Games. As someone who has never lived in a city leading up to or during a major international sporting event of this scale, I am hopeful. But maybe those in Vancouver have a different perspective. How did it work in Vancouver for the Olympics/Paralympics? Was there a similar coalition? If so, what has happened now that the Games are over? If not, do you think one would have made a difference? I look forward to learning more and observing how large sporting events can be leveraged for healthy people and healthy communities.