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An Ontario Tech intern is helping spread the love of sport through an internship with the charity Their Opportunity

Ontario Tech Communications and Digital Media Studies student Uwais Mirza (second from left in back row) worked for national children's charity Their Opportunity during his internship. A highlight for Mirza was the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive.

Uwais Mirza, a student at Ontario Tech University, was touched by his experiences working with national children's charity Their Opportunity and fulfilling its mission to make sports more accessible to children.

Mirza, a fourth-year student on the Communications and Digital Media Studies (CDMS) course in the university's Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, first came into contact with Their Opportunity through his practical coursework.

As Mirza shares a passion for sports, he was particularly encouraged by the opportunity to work with Their Opportunity due to their partnerships with organizations such as the charity Jays Care, the Toronto Raptors and the Ottawa Senators.

“That piqued my interest because I’m a big Toronto sports fan,” Mirza says. “It would be a dream for me to work with some of these people.”

Mirza, a person living with a disability, was able to help Their Opportunity revitalize some of its parasports programs and connect with Durham Region parasports organizations, a cause close to his heart.

When they saw Their Opportunity partnered with Jays Care, his life came full circle. As a child, he participated in Jays Care's Challenger Baseball program, which allows children with physical or cognitive disabilities to play baseball.

“It's great, I personally benefited from it and now the sport will continue to grow and become more accessible,” he says. “To see more of these things popping up is really special.”

Another highlight of Mirza's internship work with Their Opportunity was visiting and supporting their Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive.

In January, Their Opportunity was named a charity partner of the Ottawa Senators' Indigenous Culture Celebration. Their Opportunity's work was also highlighted during the Jan. 29 celebration, which raised $38,250 for the Senators Community Foundation.

In November 2023, Their Opportunity, the Senators Community Foundation and Canadian Tire came together and collected approximately 1,700 pieces of hockey equipment, which Their Opportunity then distributed to over 20 Indigenous communities across Ontario.

On Family Day in February, Mirza personally attended one of the Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drives at the DelPark Homes Center in Oshawa. More than 25 bags of hockey equipment and dozens of hockey sticks were collected and then shipped to three Indigenous communities in Winnipeg.

“We were really surprised at how many things we were able to get, we got so many hockey sticks,” Mirza said.

Mirza's regular coursework in his CDMS program involves a lot of research, in contrast to his practical work experience organizing events and programming.

“It was surreal,” says Mirza. “Because of my disability, I couldn’t play sports, so it’s really impressive for me to see other people doing sports.”

It was a moving experience to see that their opportunity enables more children to play sports.

“Children should have the opportunity to experience sport without any barriers – and that’s what Their Opportunity does – they try to remove as many barriers as possible while giving back to the community.”

The practical work was a real highlight of Mirza's post-secondary education.

“Here they actually care about you,” Mirza said of the internship and internship team at Ontario Tech. “I would recommend this internship to any other student.”

Did you know?
  • All Ontario Tech faculties offer co-ops or internships as part of degree programs. Students gain skills, competencies and networking through these experiences, while employers connect with future talent ready to hit the ground running when hiring.
  • Ontario Tech University has long believed in the value of student-centered educational offerings that provide hands-on, hands-on experiences as a core component of any university program.

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