Orlando Bowen is the Executive Director of One Voice One Team, a youth leadership organization that uses cognitive and physical activities to introduce the principles of "S.W.O.L.E." to young people. "S.W.O.L.E." is the essence of the program and stands for: Self Respect, Work Hard, Overcome Adversity, Lead by Example and Excellence. Many graduates of the program actively engage through community-focused partner organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Covenant House to name a few.
As a former CFL player, he has seen the significant impact that sport and community involvement has had on many lives. Orlando has been active in the GTA for many years and is an active spokesperson for the Boys to Men mentoring program, Leave Out Violence (LOVE), and the Toronto Safe Schools Anti-Bullying Campaign.
“When you’re in a space where people are energized and want to make a difference and want meaningful interactions, it becomes very powerful and aligns with the needs of the region.”
Orlando’s introduction to CivicAction came fairly recently as a 2012 DiverseCity Fellow, which he has found to be an incredibly rich experience. As he says, the organization serves as “an opportunity to glean from other leaders why they do what they do and why they do it with such passion.” He further reflects that CivicAction has an incredible ability to engage stakeholders from across the region and leverage their various perspectives to champion projects from conception to fruition: “because of how it is structured and because it is non-partisan, projects can be leveraged in moving the city forward. What CivicAction has accomplished has been transformative for many lives throughout the region.”
He attributes CivicAction with bringing more diversity to boards across the region, and says that the organization has transformed many DiverseCity participants from being by-standers by equipping them and empowering them to become animators of change.
He added that he is excited, proud, and honoured by the work that has been undertaken to date and that he has been a part of. He believes that because CivicAction is able to bring people together in a way that will meet the challenges of the future, “we can create the best possible spaces for people to realize their own goals and dreams.”