PLAY Program

Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) Program

What began in 2010 as an innovative idea inspired by Grand Chiefs, the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Right To Play has quickly developed into an integral vehicle for positive health promotion in First Nations communities and urban settings across the country. The PLAY program currently partners with 57 First Nations and urban Aboriginal organizations across Ontario and Manitoba. The program’s primary focus is on Aboriginal youth. By engaging Aboriginal children and youth—the future leaders of their communities—the PLAY program seeks to promote meaningful, lasting change.


Aboriginal youth in Canada


PLAY Quote.jpgAboriginal youth in Canada face considerable social, economic and educational challenges. According to statistics from the United Nations Human Development Index, living conditions and quality of life for the First Nations people in Canada are similar to that of many developing countries. A lack of access to education means that about 70% of First Nations students between 15 and 24 years who are living on reserve will never complete high school, while unemployment rates are twice that of the non-Aboriginal population. Health challenges, lack of access to adequate healthcare and an increase in suicides means shorter life spans than other Canadians. These issues are linked to a long history of colonization and discrimination and as a result, they require equally long-term, community-driven solutions. By engaging Aboriginal children and youth, the PLAY program seeks to promote meaningful, lasting change.


Growing rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide and health-related issues such as diabetes and obesity are just some of the reasons why it is vital to provide Aboriginal children and youth with new opportunities. By providing access to safe, consistent and specially-designed sport and play activities, Aboriginal children and youth can develop confidence, resiliency and hope for the future. In just three years, PLAY has expanded from two to 57 First Nation and urban communities in Ontario and Manitoba, engaging over 3,300 children and youth.


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