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Mapping Advocacy

The UT Center for Sport, Peace and Society (CSPS) is committed to creating a more stable, equitable, and inclusive world through sport-based social innovation. With a long-standing commitment to empowering groups of people who are often overlooked, CSPS works diligently to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, locally and across the world.

One of the greatest challenges participants of CSPS programs had previously cited is the need for a greater understanding of the international, regional, and national laws and policies designed to protect people with disabilities. Alumni express a pressing need to know what laws exist in their respective countries, as well as within their geographical regions, for the purposes of connecting prudent information directly to their efforts to create more inclusive grassroots and elite sports initiatives. It is out of this need that the idea for creating a one-of-a-kind interactive global map was born.

Veronica AllenVeronica Allen (’20) began interning with CSPS in June 2019 under the direction of Carolyn Spellings, chief of evaluation, research, and accountability. She spent the summer researching laws and policies around the world that addressed gender equity, specifically in sport, as part of a project funded by the Stuart Scott Award from ESPN. After collecting a large data set on countries all over the world, there was a need to come up with an appropriate platform upon which to display the information. Allen suggested putting it all into an interactive global Esri Story Map and reached out to Liem Tran, professor of geography, for advice on how this would be possible. Tran suggested she take the GEOG420: GIS in the Community course and make this her penultimate project. With project partner Jordan Romero, Allen spent the semester putting the map together in collaboration with the CSPS and Tran. It was a success!

Allen continued to intern for CSPS during the 2020 spring semester. Due to the positive feedback on how the first map turned out, CSPS asked if she could produce another one, this time on laws and policies that protected persons with disabilities. This project was in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Allen went through a similar process of data collection and discussions around what the map could look like. This time, CSPS wanted to highlight the legal framework, stats on persons with disabilities, Paralympic information, and alumni from their Sport for Community mentor program. Allen determined a Dashboard map would be the best fit for this project. Allen, another intern, and Spellings spent the semester and summer putting it together and making proper edits to ensure that it would become a valuable resource for their alumni and others in the sport community to view stats on protections for persons with disabilities with a sport context. The global map was just one small part of their newly launched website, sportandpeace.com, to advocate for persons with disabilities and celebrate the anniversary of the ADA. 

“The thing that stuck out to me most in these two projects is how dynamic GIS knowledge and capabilities can be. I was able to fuse two of my passions, GIS and sports, to create a meaningful resource for the Center. I was also fortunate to have Dr. Spellings as an advisor throughout the process,” said Allen, who now applies the things she learned during the process to her new job with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “At UT, Dr. Tran and Michael Camponovo consistently provided advice and guidance. I am so thankful for my experience as an undergraduate student in the geography department.”