Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher, recreation worker, coach, and project developer in Salluit, Quebec, Canada, is the 2017 recipient of the Global Teacher Prize. Ms. MacDonnell’s academic and field experience centers on recreation, community development, and international youth engagement. Most recently, she has collaborated with coaches, teachers, and recreation coordinators in other villages to organize a Nunavik Student Athlete program to help combat truancy.
Growing up in rural Nova Scotia inspired Ms. MacDonnell’s interest in a relationship-building approach to community development, equity, and social justice. During nearly four years of field and research experience in Sub-Saharan and East Africa, she worked with diverse groups of youth and specialized in using sport and recreation as a tool in community development. A CIDA internship facilitated by the Coady International Institute took her to an AIDS orphanage in Botswana. Working with orphans and their caregivers, she developed recreation programming such as an HIV/AIDS peer education football program and a community drama initiative.
Ms. MacDonnell spent a year and a half with Right to Play, stationed in Congolese and Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania. In partnership with refugee coaches and teachers, she initiated the development of a play-based peace-building curriculum; the building of safe play spaces; camp-wide teacher trainings; and the implementation of inclusive play programs for girls, women, and children with disabilities. She returned to Tanzania as Country Manager for Youth Challenge International, where she coordinated teams of Canadian youth volunteers as they partnered with youth-led organizations in Tanzania, focusing on projects that provided HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and support. Ms. MacDonnell also worked with Inuit youth on youth leadership in recreation through Sport Nunavut.
Ms. MacDonnell completed her Master's degree at the University of Toronto, where she focused on the role of sport-based interventions in international development. While studying, she worked on research for the International Working Group on Sport and Development. Ms. MacDonnell’s Master's research critically examined the use of sport as a tool in challenging and transforming gender relations in Tanzania.