Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and its MLSE Foundation announced a million dollar contribution to Right To Play’s Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program. The PLAY program partners with First Nation communities across Ontario and shares MLSE’s vision and commitment to changing lives through the spirit and the power of sports.
MLSE’s ownership team, Bell, Rogers Communications Inc. and Chairman of the Board Larry Tanenbaum have expressed their full support of this partnership as it represents one of MLSE’s core values: leading in the community.
Chairman Larry Tanenbaum has been a long-standing supporter of Aboriginal issues in Canada, specifically Ontario, and was excited to bring this opportunity forward for consideration.
“Right To Play and the MLSE Foundation already enjoy a strong community investment partnership,” said Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman of the MLSE Board of Directors. “The strong symmetry between the organizations’ mandates will ensure that the lives of thousands of Aboriginal youth are improved, thanks to this commitment.”
With this partnership, MLSE and the MLSE Foundation become PLAY’s largest single private sector donor. Over the next three years, this investment will incresase the reach of the program by 25 per cent and will boost its reach to 45 Ontario Aboriginal communities and as many as 10 urban Ontario centers.
“Right To Play is incredibly proud and honoured to receive such a transformative gift from MLSE and the MLSE Foundation. This investment will strengthen our partnerships with over 45 First Nation communities and urban Aboriginal groups, and allow us to expand the PLAY program’s reach in Canada. We’re grateful for the vision and dedication shown by the Lawrence and Judith Tanenbaum Family Foundation, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, our numerous other supporters and our community partners who all believe in the power of play,” said Johann Olav Koss, President and CEO, Right To Play.
The PLAY program is a multi-faceted program using sport and play activities as a tool to build on the strengths of Aboriginal children, youth and their communities while supporting the value of culture and identity. Each component of the PLAY program is tailored to the specific needs of each community, is designed in partnership with communities and develops and strengthens essential life-skills in children and youth. Since its inception in 2010, PLAY tackles a number of challenges facing aboriginal youth including: poor quality and lack of consistency in youth programs; a limited sense of opportunity and narrow vision for the future; inter-personal conflict; addiction to alcohol and drugs; and a lack of healthy activities for youth.
“Since its creation, the Ontario government has been a proud partner of the PLAY program which recognizes that recreation is a powerful tool that builds trust, prosperity and hope by expanding opportunities for Aboriginal youth. We welcome this new investment and look forward to seeing this great initiative impact the lives of many more Aboriginal youth across the province,” said David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
MLSE employees will proudly participate in this partnership by enhancing recreational spaces, providing healthy meals and delivering sports programming and coaching instruction as a part of the PLAY program. From April 4 to April 7, 40 MLSE staff, coaches, executives and alumni will travel to Whitefish River First Nation, Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation and Mississauga #8 First Nation to host three days of Sport For Development clinics.
“The involvement of our staff in the delivery of the PLAY program’s positive outcomes demonstrates MLSE’s core value of being a leader in the community,” said Tom Anselmi, President and Chief Operating Officer, MLSE. “Together, we are improving the lives of Ontario’s Aboriginal Youththrough the sports we operate – soccer, basketball and hockey.”