Nurturing Diversity and Empowering Youth: Christa Giles’ take on Queer Inclusion and Mentorship through Recreation
This week, we had the privilege of meeting with Christa Giles (she/her/hers) to talk about her experience working as a recreation programmer for the Vancouver Park Board and her efforts towards queer inclusion within that role. For her, the most healing activities are those focused on leisure and the way recreation can help people bond to one another. Some of the most valuable work she does is providing a safe space for 2-spirit, trans, and gender-diverse youth and adults through events like the weekly 2STGD swim and the queer circus drop-in. The way that she interacts with the various communities she serves is heavily inspired by her experiences working at the Britannia pool. She believes that “we’re not here in dictator roles of telling people how to do what we think they should do, but really kind of flipping it around and seeing how we can serve them, remove barriers, improve access and get everyone in and enjoying [recreation].”
The value of Christa’s work is immeasurable, not only for the youth groups that take part but also as a demonstrative lesson to others on how to encourage inclusivity in all kinds of spaces. As an organization that focuses on mentorship, it’s always amazing to learn about others doing work for multigenerational connection in their community, which is exactly what Christa does by providing a variety of spaces for 2STGD individuals of all ages.
At Big Sisters, one of our main values is “Every Connection Counts”. This month, we are committed to sharing safe spaces for LGBTQ2IA+ youth and adults where they can freely enjoy recreation and activity without any barriers. During our interview with Christa, it was apparent that these safe spaces are limited in the city, and with our connection to the community, we want to share it on behalf to encourage involvement in these programs. We appreciate people advocating for not just the general welfare of youth but also ensuring that all youth in Vancouver, no matter their circumstances, can have a fun and fulfilling childhood surrounded by acceptance.
Learn more about the Queer Inclusion team and their work at vancouver.ca/park-board-pride