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Celebrating Black History Month: Honouring the Power of Giving Back

 

As we close Black History Month, it's a time to spotlight other local organizations like Community YMCA and local leaders like Shawn Mantley. Through his role as an educator and Assistant Coach of the Under 16 Community YMCA boys' team, Shawn has become a beacon of inspiration, guiding the next generation of athletes with purpose & passion.

Shawn’'s journey began at the “Y” in Halifax, where he himself grew up immersed in a culture of mentorship and opportunity. From the community courts to the halls of Dalhousie University, Shawn has dedicated himself to the values instilled by the community “Y”: “Once I was done my degree I came back to the community and started coaching because we were always taught to give back. That's what the Y taught us. The Y has been for us, a home away from home. It was the place we went when we wanted to feel safe, but also play basketball and have some great mentors around to give us life lessons."

"As a high school counsellor and former teacher," Shawn shares, “we teach to carry the books and the ball because that was a message that the Y promoted for most of us, and I can name various people who used basketball to go on to bigger things to get their degree and then on to become judges or lawyers or doctors or teachers." For Shawn, coaching at the Y isn't just about basketball—it's about bridging divides, and confronting systemic inequities head-on.

"Black History Month is a time to celebrate our achievements and acknowledge the challenges that still lie ahead. Once that month is over, then we're kind of forgotten about. Inclusion is huge, but for me, I mean, I'm Black 12 months of the year. So I’m trying to instil that resilience.” Shawn emphasizes. With a team composed of diverse talents and backgrounds, Shawn leads by example, fostering a culture of respect, empathy, and unity. "Sometimes, players are seen differently based on the colour of their skin. So, we try to get those messages across. Whether in practices or at games on how you should carry yourself because you're representing the ‘Y’, you’re representing your family, you’re representing the community you're coming from whether it’s Mulgrave Park, Uniacke Square, Fairview, whatever”.

For Shawn, Black History Month isn't confined to a single month—it's a year-round commitment to empowering the next generation. “I work with all students, but when I'm working with youth that look like me, I'm trying to give them some tips of what I went through, what maybe they'll go through in terms of racism. But also trying to make them realize that they still can be successful, depending on what their dreams and goals are, after high school or after under 16.”

Dormie Workshop is committed to supporting organizations and leaders like the Community YMCA and Shawn, whose dedication to empowering youth goes beyond a single month. Together, let’s continue to amplify their voices everyday!

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