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Embrace's Blog

Wednesday, 10 January 2018 20:24

Game Changer Model Coming to the Buckeye State

 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          Media Contact
Embrace PR
619.857.7326
 
 
Game Changer Model Coming to the Buckeye State
The Ohio State University Athletic Department, the Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department
 
 
 
 
San Diego, Calif. (January 9, 2018)– Nonprofit organization Embrace will be bringing the Game Changer model to The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, January 25, 2018.  The focus group portion of the event will begin 3 hours before the OSU Men’s Basketball team takes on Penn State at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. Bringing the San Diego-based law enforcement/community relations model to the Buckeye State was made possible by The Ohio State University Athletic Department, the Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
Game Changer creates safe space for lay members of the community, law enforcement, and elected officials to discuss problems and devise solutions together during moderated focus groups that take place 3 hours before the start of collegiate and professional sporting events. At the focus group conclusion, all participants attend the game together to build bridges, mend fences and spend quality time together.
 
Distinguished OSU alumnus and CBS Sports Basketball Analyst Clark Kellogg spearheaded the effort to bring Game Changer to his alma mater through the athletic department and Athletic Director Gene Smith. San Diego Police Department Chief, Shelley Zimmerman, an OSU alumnus herself, reached out to Columbus Division of Police Chief and OSU alumnus, Kim Jacobs, to extol the virtues of Game Changer, leading to the desire for the Columbus, Ohio law enforcement agency to participate and sponsor an event in their backyard. Chief Jacobs reached out to the Franklin County Sheriff, Dallas Baldwin, who signed off on Sheriff Department participation and sponsorship. NFL Players Coalition member and recently retired NFL Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin will be participating.
 
Chief Jacobs had this to say about the Columbus Division of Police’s participation and support of the program: “The importance of dialogue cannot be understated. Sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings is how we can all begin to understand a perspective not our own. Game Changer creates communication that matters between law enforcement and community members in a manner that builds camaraderie and breaks down barriers.” 
 
The model has received rave reviews from law enforcement and non-law enforcement participants, and is being viewed as a viable, replicable solution to remedy the unrest between law enforcement and many communities around the country. The program currently partners with 14 law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level in San Diego County as well as over a dozen nonprofit organizations and provides academic credit to college student interns.
 
Current college students, members of law enforcement, members of the business community and various Columbus residents will participate in the exclusive 20-person event. Game Changer hosted 30 such events in San Diego in 2017, collecting perception/behavior related data from well over 300 participants.
 
 
 
 
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit www.GameChanger1.org
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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 18:22

Game Changer Program Receives Additional Funding

 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          Media Contact
Embrace PR
619.857.7326
 
 
Game Changer Program Receives Additional Funding
San Diego County Sheriff Department, San Diego County District Attorney's Office and QBE Insurance Group Foundation Are the Latest to Invest in the Community Engagment Model
 
 
 
 
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (November 28, 2017) – Nonprofit organization Embrace has received additional funding for the Game Changer program. The San Diego County Sheriff Department recently awarded the program with a $10,000 grant to support operations and costs associated with implementation and expansion in San Diego, CA. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has invested $7,500. The QBE Insurance Group Foundation also recently awarded the program with a $5,000 grant.
 
 
 
 
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore Presents Check to Game Changer Founder Sean Sheppard
 
 
 
 
San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore lauded Game Changer and its work to create quality time and dialogue between law enforcement and community members. "Sometimes the best way to find common ground is to find a common interest and Game Changer helps to make that happen. This is a safe way for the exchange of ideas and the genesis of a new way of thinking – for everyone."

The two San Diego county government agencies and the publicly traded insurance provider foundation joined a growing list of investors in the 11-month-old program that includes The San Diego Police Department, Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Urban League of San Diego County, the San Diego Harbor Police Department and the San Diego Police Officers Association, totaling over $65,000 invested in the model over the past 6 months.
 
To donate to Game Changer click here.
 
 
 
 
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan Presents Check to Game Changer Founder Sean Sheppard
 
 
 
 
“Game Changer is a way for law enforcement to interact with the community and talk about tough topics. There’s no better time for this,” said San Diego County District Attorney, Summer Stephan.
 
Game Changer currently partners with 13 law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level. Since December, 2016, Game Changer has hosted 132 unique law enforcement participants and 202 unique civilian participants due to key partnerships with the University of San Diego, The County of San Diego, SDG&E, the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego State University, The San Diego Padres and the San Diego Gulls. The model provides education to participants while increasing understanding, familiarity, comfort and a greater sense of human connection through time spent communicating during the focus group, followed by socializing at a sporting/entertainment event. The program currently provides academic credit to student interns at the University of San Diego.
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit www.GameChanger1.org
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Friday, 22 September 2017 17:13

Media Alert: 3 September Game Changer Events

 
 
Creating Safe Space for Dialogue Between CommYOUnity & Law Enforcement Through Sports
Are you a Game Changer?
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WEBSITE:    www.GameChanger1.org
 
Embrace will be hosting 3 Game Changer events in September featuring San Diego District Attorney, Summer Stephan, San Diego County Chief Probation Officer, Adolfo Gonzales and San Diego Community College District Police Chief Raymund Aguirre.
 
Game Changer events consist of focus groups between community, law enforcement, members of the justice system and elected officials for respectful, informative dialogue to address problems and solutions in the community, 3 hours before local sports team game/entertainment events. Once the focus group concludes, all participants attend the San Diego Padres or USD football game together to bond and connect as fellow citizens.
 
 
WHO:     EMBRACE is a San Diego-based, 501 C 3 nonprofit organization that utilizes multi-cultural college student volunteers to serve less fortunate members of veteran and civilian communities. The organization is built on the philosophy that serving less fortunate members of society brings people together, irrespective of race, religion or sexual orientation.
 
WHEN:     Monday, September 18, 2017 4:00pm – 8:00pm
                 Tuesday, September 19, 2017 4:00pm – 8:00pm
                      Saturday, September 23, 2017 11:00am – 3:00pm
 
WHERE  All events take place in San Diego, CA
 
September 18, Sempra Energy Building: 
488 8th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 
 
September 19, San Diego Convention Center:
111 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
 
September 23, USD 
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thank You to Our Sponsors: 
 
 
Thursday, 10 August 2017 18:59

Game Changer Program Receives Local Government Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                          Media Contact
Embrace PR
619.857.7326
 
 
Game Changer Program Receives Local Government Funding 
San Diego Police Department heads recent group of entities 
to invest in the Community Engagement Model
 
 
 
 
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (August 9, 2017) – Nonprofit organization Embrace has received additional funding for the recently launched Game Changer program. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) recently awarded the program with a $24,500 grant to support operations and costs associated with implementation and expansion in San Diego, CA. SDPD joined a growing list of investors in the 8-month-old program that includes Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), San Diego County, the Urban League of San Diego County and the San Diego Police Officers Association, totaling $37,500.
 
 
 
 
Game Changer 2017 Informational Video
 
 
 
 
Game Changer utilizes sport/entertainment events to create safe space for dialogue and understanding between law enforcement, members of the judicial and legislative branches of local government and lay members of the community. Rooted in behavioral psychology, Game Changer is designed to bring about changes in perception, leading to changes in behavior, leading to a greater number of peaceful outcomes. The model provides education to participants while increasing understanding, familiarity, comfort and a greater sense of human connection through time spent communicating during the focus group, followed by socializing at a sporting/entertainment event.
 
“We are proud to support Embrace through the SAFE San Diego initiative. Game Changer is helping to generate new ideas and form meaningful connections that in turn help create safer communities,” said Penney Newell, SDG&E Senior Community Relations Manager.
 
San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman added, “Sports bring us all together and unite us around a common goal much like the Game Changer program. With Game Changer, we are able to open lines of communication and strengthen the bonds we share with our community. The relationships we build carry out into the field to help keep San Diego safe”.
 
Since December, 2016, Embrace has hosted over 160 participants at 13 Game Changer events. Seven Game Changer events are scheduled for the month of August, 2017, with several additional events in September, 2017 thanks to multiple community partners which includes ticket donations from the San Diego Padres, Fox Sports and Tickets for Kids Charities.
 
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit
#
 
 
Friday, 19 May 2017 17:15

Fox Sports Game Changer Segment Online

Fox Sports Game Changer Segment Online

Media Contact

Embrace PR

619-857-7326

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We're happy to announce that anyone can check out the entire FOX Sports San Diego #GameChanger Segments (no commercials) in the links below. Thank you Tom Catlin for thinking enough of our work to feature it so prominently. Thank you to Nancy Worlie and Tom Karlo for allowing lift off at KPBS. Thank you to Nancy Sasaki Elizabeth S. Dreicer and Alliance Healthcare Foundation for responding to our responsive grant request. Thank you to Matt Soria for allowing #GameChanger to launch at Aztec Basketball - SDSU games! #ItTakesAVillage

 

Game Changer Pt. 1:
https://youtu.be/O6GBkmyS7Pg

Game Changer Part 2:
https://youtu.be/0c64z3ed3A8

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 23:33

FOX SPORTS TELEVISION TO AIR 30-MINUTE SHOW ON EMBRACE’S GAME CHANGER PROGRAM

 
   
 
 
 
FOX SPORTS TELEVISION TO AIR 30-MINUTE SHOW ON EMBRACE’S GAME CHANGER PROGRAM
Police/Community Relations model that utilizes sports will be featured on
“Inside San Diego Sports”
 
 
 
 
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Thursday, May 11, 2017) – On Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 10:30pm PST, Fox Sports San Diego (FSSD) will air a 30 minute television show featuring Game Changer, the Police/Community relations model program created by Embrace. Air times and cable provider channels can be found below.
 
FOX SPORTS TV GAME CHANGER AIR TIMES 
(All times are Pacific Standard Time)
 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017: 10:30 pm or following the Padres postgame show
 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 : 3:00am, 8:30am, 1:30pm, 6:00pm and 10:30pm
 
Thursday, May 18, 2017: 4:00pm
 
Friday, May 19, 2017: 6:00pm and 11:30pm
 
Saturday, May 20, 2017: 9:30am
 
Sunday, May 21, 2017: 5:30pm
 
FOX SPORTS SAN DIEGO CHANNELS
 
AT&T U-verse: 776 and 1776 (HD)
Cox: San Diego: 56 and 1056 (HD) Las Vegas: 96 and 1096 (HD)
Tucson: 73 and 1073 (HD)
DIRECTV: 694 (SD and HD)
Dish: 408 & 439 HD
Time Warner Cable: San Diego: 61 and 322; El Centro: 20 and 322
Desert Cities/Desert Hot Springs: 76 and 322; Yuma: 70 and 322; Hawaii: 227
Verizon: 80 and 580 (HD) *launching
 
Game Changer utilizes sports to create safe space for dialogue and understanding between police officers and lay members of the community. Game Changer is a response to the many instances of often-preventable violence between law enforcement and members of the community, particularly communities of color.
 
To donate to Embrace click here
 
The model is rooted in behavioral psychology and educates while increasing understanding, familiarity, comfort and a greater sense of human connection through time spent communicating about issues and solutions. Data is collected before and after each event to measure changes in perception. The focus groups occur 3 hours before the start of a sporting/entertainment event and last for approximately 2.75 hours.
 
Once the focus groups conclude, all participants immediately attend the sporting/entertainment event to bond, continue conversing and spend quality human time together while rooting on the home team. Game Changer aims to bring about changes in perception, leading to changes in behavior, leading to a greater number of peaceful outcomes.
 
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit www.ImaGameChanger.org
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017 16:56

Alliance Healthcare Foundation Provides Embrace’s Game Changer Program with $25,000 Grant

 
   
 
 
 
Alliance Healthcare Foundation Provides Embrace’s Game Changer
Program with $25,000 Grant
Responsive Grant funds will further develop Police/Community Wellness Model 
 
 
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (March 21, 2017) – Embrace recently received a $25,000 Responsive Grant from Alliance Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to assist with the development of the Game Changer model. Game Changer utilizes sports to create safe space for dialogue and understanding between police officers and lay members of the community. According to the Alliance Healthcare Foundation website, the criteria to receive Responsive Grants include: target population, evidence base for program design, geographic location of program, strengths and weaknesses in request, and budget, among others. Responsive grants may be: time-sensitive, a novel funding opportunity or leadership & organizational development-based.
 
 
 
 
San Diego Union Tribune Newspaper Game Changer Video
 
 
 
 
“Alliance Healthcare Foundation is excited to participate with Game Changer as we explore ways to impact health and wellness through violence reduction,” said Alliance Healthcare Foundation Executive Director, Nancy Sasaki. “Game Changer is a powerful way to reconnect as humans with respect and understanding by hearing each other’s story and creating positive shared experiences.”
 
 
Game Changer events have occurred every month at San Diego State University since the program launched on December 12, 2016. Additional events are scheduled to occur with the San Diego Padres during the months of April and May 2017. The number of events and where they occur beyond May, 2017 will depend upon funding and additional partners that include high schools, universities and professional sports teams.
 
“We deeply appreciate AHF’s support that addresses an age-old societal issue in an innovative, unifying manner,” said Embrace Founder and Game Changer creator, Sean Sheppard. Early efficacy results lead us to believe that the program’s immediate and foreseeable future is extremely bright.”
 
For more information on Game Changer and future events please visit www.ImaGameChanger.org
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Saturday, 11 March 2017 00:18

SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE SPOTLIGHTS EMBRACE'S POLICE/COMMUNITY MODEL & FOUNDER

 
 
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
San Diegan seeks change through dialogue, sports

Sean Sheppard, founder of Game Changer, brings groups to bond over the Aztecs at Viejas Arena after hosting frank focus-group discussions about thorny topics such as law enforcement and the judicial system. (Hayne Palmour IV U-T)
 
 
 
KARLA PETERSON
Sean Sheppard was sitting outside his neighborhood Starbucks when he saw it. Someone had scratched a swastika on surface of the metal cafe table where he was enjoying the sun and talking about his latest venture. And as the community advocate usually does when something disturbs him, Sheppard looked at an outrage and saw an opportunity.

“Whoever drew that, I would beg them to come to a Game Changer event,” the 48-year-old Clairemont resident said, pointing at the crudely carved symbol lurking amidst the coffee-cup rings. “When I step out of my home, I give people the benefit of the doubt that they are decent human beings despite our history and despite what you see on social media. Game Changer is about proactively bringing about our best American selves, or at least taking steps to do it.”
 
 
 
 
Click on San Diego Union Tribune Video - Making A Difference 
 
 
 
 
Formed in response to the fear and anger Sheppard felt after the 2015 rash of fatal shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers, Game Changer brings members of law enforcement and the judicial system together with elected officials and community members for frank focus-group discussions about such thorny issues as racism, stop-and-frisk, misconceptions about the police and people of color.

And when the stories have been shared, the issues have been aired and the pre- and post-discussion survey forms have been filled out, all of the attendees leave the KPBS meeting room and head off to Viejas Arena for an Aztecs men’s basketball game. Which is where some of the biggest changes can happen.
 
To donate to Embrace click here

“I know that my world view was shaped by the fact that I have been around white, black, Latino, Asian and gay people all my life, and I knew that I had to create an environment for that type of phenomenon to take place. And I knew that sports was something that did that,” said Sheppard, who was the director of strength and conditioning for Olympic sports at Ohio State University.

“With Game Changer, you see people who may have been at odds an hour before, and now they’re watching the game and laughing and talking about their kids or how they like the same kind of bourbon. That’s what breaks down barriers. That’s what changes perceptions and that’s what changes behaviors. It’s hard to mistreat someone you like.”

Raised in South Brunswick, N.J., Sheppard did his undergraduate work at Georgetown University and got his graduate degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports psychology at San Diego State. He had some problems with drinking and smoking pot along the way, but after finding spiritual and psychological redemption by volunteering with the Salvation Army, Sheppard founded Embrace in 2003.

With Embrace, Sheppard helped rally thousands of college students to feed and clothe the homeless, collect food and water for survivors of natural disasters and repair homes for low-income and disabled veterans. The “Embrace the Streets” feeding-the-homeless program ended last summer, but the “Healing Our Heroes’ Homes” house-rehabilitation program just finished its 11th project. Embrace is holding a “Stretch 4 Vets” yoga fundraising event aboard the Battleship USS Iowa Museum in Los Angeles on April 8.

His years with Embrace made Sheppard an expert in the power of teamwork and unity. It also showed him the importance of knowing the right people in the right places. When it came time to take Game Changer from concept to reality, Sheppard knew he needed to get the San Diego Police Department on board. Fortunately, he was already on great terms with the person who could make it happen.

Sheppard met San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman a few years ago at a dinner honoring the Rev. Henry Rodriguez Jr., the San Diego Police Department chaplain and longtime St. Jude Shrine of the West pastor who died last August. Zimmerman is an Ohio State alumna and a rabid Buckeyes fan, so when she discovered that Sheppard was a strength trainer at her alma mater, a friendship was born.

The two kept in touch, and Zimmerman was his first booster. She got the San Diego Police Officers Association on board, Sheppard rounded up partners — including Uber, San Diego State and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity — and Game Changer was ready to play.

“The first time I met Sean, we talked about how sports was such a great equalizer,” Zimmerman said. “So a couple of years go by, and we go to lunch and he starts telling me about bringing the community and the police together and using sports to break down those barriers, and I said, ‘I love it.’

“Even if you don’t have anything else in common, if you have a love of sports, you can bond as fans. And then you start learning that you have a lot in common once you have an everyday conversation. Sports do bring people together.”

When the first Game Changer gathering was held last December, Sheppard did not know how his grand experiment would go. Would the 20 participants — 10 police officers and 10 community members — be willing to speak their minds? Would the resulting conversations be helpful? And could people put their differences aside long enough to listen?

The answer to all of the above was, “Yes.” And now that Sheppard has wrapped up his fourth Game Changer meeting — one where community members talked about frightening encounters with police officers, police officers talked about the life-and-death pressures of the job, and people from both sides bonded over their love of Hawaii — he is sure there will be more progress to come.

His goals include expanding the Game Changer program to include other sporting events and maybe some concerts. He would love to bring it to other cities. And once the data from the participants’ pre- and post-meeting surveys are collected and processed by Cal State Fullerton, Sheppard hopes that personal revelations can lead to public change.

“They say all politics is local, but I say it is also individual. Town halls have their purposes, but they don’t provide an opportunity for everybody to speak and be listened to. When we have regular interactions with each other and start seeing one another as people, that is how we see changes in society across the board. Exposure cannot help but bring about change.”

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