News / Toronto

Aboriginal youth sports program gets major boost from MLSE

PLAY program gets $1 million grant, hopes to create long-term initiatives in communities across the country

Through PLAY programs, kids from Aboriginal communities across the country get a chance to participate in sports.

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Through PLAY programs, kids from Aboriginal communities across the country get a chance to participate in sports.

Aboriginal youth in Toronto will soon be hitting the field, rink or pitch, thanks to a sizable donation from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

The Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program will receive a $1-million grant from MLSE Tuesday to support its initiatives in 88 communities across the country.

“This kind of support is tremendous for us to create some consistency,” said PLAY’s director Rose Lipton. “We want to make sure we’re not just going in and out of these communities, but develop some long-term projects for these kids.”

A branch of Right to Play Canada, the program partners with Aboriginal communities to train local youth leaders, who in turn act as mentors. All activities are play-based, from dance skills to amateur baseball and soccer.

In Toronto, the program works with the First Nations School near Dundas and Broadview.

As part of the donation celebration, 40 PLAY participants will take part in a basketball development clinic Tuesday at the Hershey Centre, before watching a Raptors 905 game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants from a suite.

Lipton said children in remote areas often feel “frustrated” because they don’t have the same access to sport as kids in cities. The PLAY program works to change that, so youth everywhere can benefit from sport.

“That’s our end goal, to make sure every kid gets a chance to play even without necessarily becoming a pro athlete,” Lipton said.

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