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June 07, 2023

Marking the first anniversary of USA Archery’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Advisory Council

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – “Sports should be a safe place to grow and to thrive, and nobody should feel they are too different to belong.”

These are the words of Sarah Chai Schildknecht, a member of USA Archery’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) Advisory Council, which this week marks its first anniversary.

“My dad was adopted from Korea into the United States as a teenager, and sports was his way of connecting to this country and those around him, despite not even speaking the same language as my adoptive grandparents,” added Chai Schildknecht.

The DEIA Advisory Council is just one step in USA Archery’s commitment to being a leader within the archery community and beyond. In addition to the advisory council, USA Archery developed a DEIA Strategic Plan to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and access within the sport, and launched a dedicated webpage to share and promote initiatives and resources.

Chai Schildknecht said, “This love of sports has permeated my family - for me, most acutely with archery when I picked up my first bow and arrow over two decades ago and instantly became hooked on the sport.

“I begged my parents to take me to the range every week, even while recalling that I didn't see too many people who looked like me. With time, I met some of my closest lifelong friends and mentors through archery, and the sport instilled in me confidence, passion, commitment and teamwork.”

Echoing Chai Schildknecht’s words, USA Archery remains committed to providing equal access, and creating an environment of inclusion in which all people feel safe, respected and valued.

Since 2017, USA Archery has facilitated grant programs to support the development of Explore Archery programs in over 50 communities with a goal to provide pathways for archery via urban park and recreation departments.

In addition, USA Archery maintains grant programs for disabled veterans and adaptive athletes, and currently has a DEIA Coach Grant open for application.

USA Archery, in partnership with Easton Foundations, has offered grants to help start new collegiate programs, to include Livingstone University in 2021, a historically Black college/university (HBCU), as well as multiple other two-year colleges and four-year universities.

“Everyone belongs on the range,” Chai Schildknecht concluded. “This is why it's crucial to be intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion, and to ensure diverse perspectives are not just heard but also encouraged, such as through USAA's DEIA Advisory Council.”

USA Archery’s Club Excellence Award Program builds off of this sentiment, recognizing USAA Clubs for excellence in the categories of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access, Event Hosting, Club Excellence and Member Growth.

Northside Archery Club, out of Chicago IL, was the inaugural recipient of this award in 2022, and Eileen Guinana, Special Olympics Administrator for the Chicago Park district commented, “We connected with Northside Archery Club (NSAC) in 2020 due to the challenges that Covid presented for keeping our athletes engaged and active.

“Like many others, our typical programming was not an option and when exploring some non-traditional sports as related to Special Olympics, my team and I discussed archery as a possibility for our athletes to get involved in that could be hosted in a socially distant manner. Getting the families involved was also going to be key since none of our programs were meeting in person.”

Learn more about USA Archery’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access.

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