USA Cycling published the first three stories on their newly launched storytelling platform, In Our Own Words. The platform was created to give USA Cycling members a place to share their experiences, passions and interests in their own words – a space to talk about the things that are important to them. It is envisioned that stories will cover a range of topics including such things as mental health, diversity, inclusion, clean sport, overcoming adversity, SafeSport and more.
“In Our Own Words is aimed at giving our members a way to speak candidly about issues that are important to them so that we can start having critical conversations and addressing common issues within our community,” said Kelsey Erickson, SafeSport Director for USA Cycling, “We are excited to provide a space for members to share their experiences and we hope that this platform will evolve into place where our members can feel heard, recognized, supported and able to engage in productive dialogue on the important issues raised.”
The first set of articles feature the voices of some familiar faces in American Cycling, including Phil Gaimon and Katie Compton, as well as a contribution from an anonymous member, with topics ranging from Depression and Overcoming Injuries to defending the sanctity of cycling and its athletes through reporting SafeSport violations.
“Our members need to know that we support them on and off the bike,” said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO of USA Cycling, “Whether that is through giving them a place to report violations through SafeSport, providing an arena to share their sentiments or simply showing up to their local bike race and feeling an overwhelming sense of community, we are working towards ensuring our members have a sense of belonging within USA Cycling. The launch of In Our Own Words is one of many steps we are taking towards creating an open and inclusive environment where every cyclist is welcome.”
To learn more about In Our Own Words, including how you can contribute a story, visit: http://usacycling.org/in-our-own-words
Visit USACycling.org for more information on the athletes, events and membership programs, and follow @USACycling across all channels for the latest on Team USA. For more information, contact Guillermo Rojas at firstname.lastname@example.org
more from USA Cycling’s Director of Safesport Kelsey Erickson…
Welcome to “In Our Own Words”, a platform for USA Cycling members to speak candidly about issues that are important to you. I am excited to hear from each of you about the things you are passionate about, the trials you have overcome, the victories you are celebrating – anything and everything you want to share!
We all have moments in our lives that have significantly shaped the people we are today and for many of us, the thought of sharing our stories with others is terrifying – it entails a level of vulnerability that we are hesitant to embrace. We may find ourselves thinking that we are the only person who has ever felt this way, experienced this challenge, or been paralyzed by a particular fear. We often convince ourselves that no-one could understand where we are coming from or relate to our experiences. That if they knew who we really were then they would look at us differently.
Have thoughts like this ever crossed your mind? They have definitely crossed mine. Thankfully though, I have also experienced the incredible freedom, comfort and inspiration that can come from hearing someone else’s story and recognizing that it is is similar to mine – that I am not alone. There is freedom in sharing our stories and being accepted not despite, but because of what we have been through and where we are headed. Sharing our stories also reminds us that who we are is way more than the sum of what we do and have done.
My hope is that this platform will grow into a space where you can feel heard, connected, supported and accepted regardless of whether you are a casual outdoor enthusiast or an Olympic gold medallist. We have the opportunity to create an open and engaging culture within USA Cycling through sharing our stories. I want everyone in our community to feel safe and proud to unashamedly be themselves. I hope that reading one another’s stories will provide an opportunity for each of us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and come to appreciate one another’s differences rather than feeling threatened by them.
Honestly, my dream is that, over time, we will be quick to empathize and slow to judge. That we will ask questions rather than insert opinions. That we will offer support instinctively rather than waiting to be asked. That we will listen (via reading) rather than constantly speaking. That we will gain perspective rather than simply offering our opinion. That we will begin to expose and reprove unacceptable behavior and stand alongside those who have been marginalized rather than staying silent or turning a blind eye. That we will celebrate and mourn with one another when appropriate rather than staying isolated. And, that will give permission to ourselves and others to seek and accept help when needed because, let’s be honest – we all need help at some point. Lets evolve into a community where transparency and vulnerability are viewed as a sign of strength and courage rather than weakness. Because that’s exactly what it takes to be vulnerable – courage and strength.
USA Cycling’s community is made up of many unique individuals with varying experiences, and each one of us has a story to tell. I hope that this platform gives you the freedom to raise your voice and share yours. Your story matters.
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