Toronto PanAm and Parapan Am – it was worth it: Kuts

Image of Pachi the porcupine, the mascot for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games dancing in crowd with celebrations for event

Pachi the porcupine, the mascot for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Photo: Chris Harte, CC BY 2.0

Torontonians still remember the traffic jams and regular road closures that happened across the Greater Toronto Area and the common belief that no one actually cared about the PanAm and Parapan Am games or that they didn’t sell enough tickets. These were some of the most frequent complaints about the Toronto PanAm and Parapan Am Games.

If you were one of those people you should have visited any one of the venues to see the excitement and enthusiasm of the spectators and volunteers. Evidence of that delight can be found on the official Facebook page for the Toronto2015 volunteers as each day dozens of former volunteers write nostalgic posts about their shifts, new friends, visitors and athletes they had seen, followed by numerous sad faces and compassionate comments.

The Games did leave a mark in people’s hearts as well as at George Brown College (GBC).

According to the GBC website, since September 2012 more than 30 George Brown students have completed internships with Toronto2015 in areas such as sport and event marketing, human resources management, business marketing and computer systems technology.

The Brazilian men’s and women’s volleyball teams trained at St. James campus’ Alex Barbier gym. During this time the college’s classrooms were turned into volunteer training spaces in the evenings and on weekends, according to GBC.

GBC students Heather Lochhead, Andrew Murrell and Jillian MacSween were chosen to be torchbearers during the games. MacSween also participated in the Parapan Am games as a goalball player and her team won the bronze medal match against Guatemala.

The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) offered a longer grace period to repay the loan and a waiver which reduced the pre-study contribution to zero for college and university students who volunteered for Toronto2015, according to the OSAP website.

Last but not least GBC will transform one of the buildings in the Athlete’s Village into its first student residence by the fall of 2016. The suites will be two-bedrooms and furnished with a student lounge, a games room and study areas. The location will have a new streetcar route, which will be launched in 2016, and a roof-top YMCA garden built with the help of George Brown students.

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Toronto PanAm and Parapan Am – it was worth it: Kuts