The topic of participant protection in the marching arts has seen a vigorous discourse in recent months. WGI Sport of the Arts is committed to creating a positive, safe, and professional environment for all. With a heightened awareness of our responsibility to the young people WGI serves, the board of directors has instituted new policies that will foster a community that treats all with dignity and respect.
“Safety, protection, and the well-being of our participants is a core value within WGI,” said Executive Director Ron Nankervis. “We are committed to providing an atmosphere of appropriate conduct, security, and support for all.”
The newly revised Code of Conduct for Participating Groups covering participants, staff, and volunteers has been expanded and more clearly defines expectations of conduct, compliance, and reporting for groups participating in any WGI-sanctioned event. While a Code of Conduct for WGI Personnel has been in place for some time now, some areas were significantly strengthened to state the expected standards of all engaged by the organization in unambiguous language.
It is essential for all members of the WGI community have information on how to address concerns that may be contrary to this commitment. With the welfare of all constituents in mind, WGI has also developed a Participant Protection Reporting Policy as well as a new process of reporting concerns on misconduct or alleged noncompliance directly to WGI. The Participant Protection Reporting Form will assist an individual connect with the appropriate party to ensure any concerns brought forth are addressed.
Effective immediately, WGI Sport of the Arts will be the first producer of marching arts events to require all employees, judges, and volunteers to undergo background checks in partnership with the National Center for Safety Initiatives using guidelines from the National Council of Youth Sports. These background checks will screen convictions and pending dispositions for felonies, crimes involving force or threat of force against a person, crimes of a sexual nature (including sex offender registrants), crimes involving controlled substances, crimes involving cruelty to animals, and crimes involving harm to a minor. Additional language in the contract for services has also been added for individuals to disclose any situation that might not appear on a standard background check but could disqualify their participation by violating the spirit and intent of the Code of Conduct.
Nankervis continues, “Requiring individuals engaged by our organization to undergo background checks shows that WGI pledges to do its due diligence and will err on the side of caution when participant protection is involved. While no one enjoys discussing these topics, background checks are and should be an essential tool in any youth-based organization.”
WGI is also encouraging participating groups to follow best practices within their organization. Groups should follow their school district policies or state and local laws regarding employment of educational staff interacting with students. Steps should also be taken to formalize compliance and reporting procedures within their group to align with the Code of Conduct.
WGI Sport of the Arts unequivocally values the protection of every participant, staff member, volunteer, and fan. It is paramount for all members of our community to feel safe, respected, and enjoy their experience. Through these policy refinements, WGI seeks to develop a culture of openness and accountability throughout all levels of our community.