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YOU Belong: A Message that Matters

The YOU Belong: LGBTQA Youth Sports and Leadership Initiative is a camp starting this summer, by Wade Davis II and Darnell L. Moore. Wade used to play in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins. He also played on two different teams within NFL Europe. Darnell has made his work in education, specifically with youth. They have both worked as LGTBQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Allies) advocates; Darnell was appointed the inaugural chair of the city of Newark’s LGBTQ Advisory Concerns Commission and Wade served as an LGBT Surrogate for President Barack Obama during his last election.

Although space has been created for LGBTQ athletes, Wade and Darnell want to make sure that LGBTQ youth have outlets to play sports, as well as have access to professional athletes to help guide them. Their camp will provide 200 youth (in just the first year) with free access to 4-day sport and leadership camps, which they will hold quarterly. But their camp does not stop at athletic skills because they aim to help youth become better leaders and human beings as well. For youth from 14 to 24 they will be engaging youth of all genders and sexualities, and bridging the gap between youth of different sexualities, through a common love of sports. This initiative will launch in Chicago, July 25 through July 28.

Unfortunately, there are ideas about how LGBTQ people do not belong in sports, or how they cannot be teammates with straight athletes. These are the ideas that the YOU Belong initiative is working to change. Since there have not been any programs like this in the United States, Darnell and Wade hope to create a LGBTQ youth sports and leadership model that other youth service organizations can follow, while also creating long-standing relationships between professional sports organizations and the LGBTQ community.

Darnell and Wade are both passionate about helping LGBTQ youth be everything that they can be in a country that still has a long way to go with LGBTQ issues. Their advice to these youth was to “Commit to the radical work of self-love and care. Search out people who build you up, not tear you down. And, live fiercely.”

Learn more about the initiative: http://youbelonginitiative.com/