Aerospace major and Bikechain volunteer Adrian Esser is one of the students working on creative ways to support and celebrate the Games (all photos courtesy Hart House)

U of T students celebrate Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

In only a few months, Toronto will come alive with the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Meet two students who hope to leave a mark, not just on the Pan Am Games themselves, but also on the lives of some of the people who will soon join us in our city.

Adrian Esser

When he’s not hard at work studying aerospace, Esser volunteers for Bikechain, a not-for-profit cycling organization based out of St. George campus. His idea for the Pan Ams was born in a surprising place – a bar in Little Italy.

“I’m not a huge sport fan, but this one time during the FIFA World Cup, I went [there] with some friends and I watched the match and the energy was just amazing.”

Knowing that international visitors and students won’t be able to navigate the city as easily as a Toronto native such as himself, Esser realized he’d like to bring this experience to them, especially to those who won’t necessarily buy tickets but still wish to enjoy an event on TV.

The end result? A project to have a Bikechain pop-up stand at the CIE so that volunteers can provide DIY repair service to members of the international community.

More to the point, these volunteers will also help visitors learn about ways to experience the Pan Am Games. And in a clever twist of a common Bikechain practice, they will hand out colour-coded name tags to differentiate attendees based on sports they want to follow at the Games.

“The [names tags] will act as a conversation starter,” says Esser. “We can also foreseeably email people who choose to go on mailing lists about sports events that match what they wrote on the name tag. That way, they could then go with other people to watch a cycling event at a bar.”

Esser and his project were awarded $500, which he says has been allocated to food, promotion, parts, and more.

Eleni Vlahiotis

A University of Toronto OISE teacher candidate, with a B. Ed. and a B. Phys. Ed., Vlahiotis is passionate about education.

Vlahiotis is also an Equity Initiatives Student Leader for Equity Movement, an organization through which she ran an event called She Talks on February 24. It’s for this event that the Pan Am/Parapan Am Student Initiative Fund awarded Vlahiotis $1,300. 

“It was actually my second time doing this event,” says Vlahiotis “It was created last year and it was very successful, so of course I wanted to bring it back.”

A multi-partner initiative hosted by the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education as part of the Ignite program, She Talks addressed sexuality issues and other topics related to women and gender leading up to the Games.

“Specifically, She Talks was born because of the poor representation of women in sports in general and high performance sports in particular,” says Vlahiotis, who used to play fast-pitch softball.

“The funds covered the entire event, so I’m very grateful. And even if I hadn’t received the money, the application process made me lay out my objectives and plan everything more carefully, so it was very helpful for me.”

(Read more about She Talks.)

The University of Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Student Initiative Fund is a one-time fund for student groups planning events and activities that relate to, or celebrate, the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. This fund is a tri-campus partnership between standing student initiative funds at the University of Toronto. (Find out more.)

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