Right To Play’s Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program partners with Indigenous communities and organizations to train locally-hired Community Mentors to deliver weekly play-based programs that promote healthy living, healthy relationships, education and employability life-skills. Community Mentors are trained and supported by Right To Play staff as they develop programs that are responsive to the individual needs of their community. Since 2010, the PLAY program has expanded from working with two partners to more than 85 across Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, reaching over 6000 children and youth last year. Learn more from the PLAY 2019-2020 Year in Review and the PLAY Fall 2020 Seasonal Report

How does PLAY work?
PLAY youth worker
Hire a Local Youth Worker
PLAY partners hire a local Community Mentor with 50/50 salary support from PLAY.
PLAY youth worker
Provide Training & Support
Right To Play designs and delivers training, program resources and coaching support throughout the year.
PLAY youth
Run Child & Youth Programs
Children and youth lead and participate in weekly programs that build healthy connections with their peers and their community.
"The Right To Play partnership has not only made a difference in our ability to provide activities for our youth, it has empowered youth to provide activities for themselves."
Where do we play?
PLAY National Map 2020-21
What is the need for the PLAY program?

For measures like human security, education, and standard of living, Canada is 10th in the world on the 2016 UN Human Development Index. Due to the on-going effects of colonization and the legacies of residential schools, Canada’s rank falls to 63rd when Indigenous peoples are considered. This drop is reflected in the inequities that Indigenous peoples experience at higher rates than most non-Indigenous Canadians, such as poverty, substandard housing, food insecurity, and barriers to educational and employment opportunities. Indigenous children and youth are especially affected.

As the driving force of their families and communities, we know that this generation of Indigenous children and youth hold the knowledge and potential to defy such disparities and to create positive change. We have witnessed children and youth take charge of their lives, and become leaders for their peers and their communities. Together, we can help these young people rise, by providing them with:

  • Safe play spaces
  • Life-skills training
  • Healthy food
  • Inclusive physical activities
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Positive role models
  • Connections with their community
  • Celebration of their cultural diversity
“Right To Play has brought out the leader in me, and continues to help me bring out the leader in others.”
Program Impacts

The PLAY program works to achieve positive change in four essential life skill areas that were identified through community partnerships: Health, Education, Healthy Relationships, and Employability.

PLAY youth
96% of Indigenous Communities with health-focused programs saw more physical activity. “Right To Play made it fun to learn about things like healthy eating, diabetes, physical activity and mental health.”
PLAY youth
97% of PLAY After School Program participants said they were excited about school. “Right To Play helped build self-confidence, improve attendance and relationships with teachers, and motivate kids to stay in school.”
PLAY youth
Healthy Relationships
91% of PLAY After School and Youth Leadership participants felt more connected to their community. “Since joining the program, they’re more resilient, with better coping skills, and peer relationships.”
PLAY youth
92% of youth felt working as summer program staff will benefit their future job search. “Right To Play helped give young people job experiences and mentorship opportunities, better resume-writing, and interview skills.”
Our Program Principles

At Right To Play, we recognize there are challenges present when research in Indigenous communities is neither consultative nor participatory. For this reason and our commitment to community ownership, we strive to abide by the OCAP principles in our research and data collection practices. The First Nations OCAP Principles include Ownership, Control, Access and Possession. This means that:

  • We only collect data that is relevant and useful for the communities that we work with.
  • We emphasize qualitative data and storytelling in our methods.
  • Data analysis and raw data is shared back with communities.
  • All communities are free to access their data.
  • Data analysis is contextualized as much as possible.
  • We collect informed consent from all research participants.
Updates and Reports

At the heart of our work in Canada is a theory of change that sees a collaborative partnership between Right To Play and local communities, schools and organizations as fundamental to promoting positive child and youth development. As we look ahead to 2021, we will work with our partners to create safer spaces and more opportunities for youth to engage as agents of change in their communities.

PLAY strat plan - 2018-2020
PLAY Programs Supporters


  • Bear Standing Tall (Onion Lake Cree Nation, ON)
  • Debra Trask (West Moberly, BC)
  • Ernie Sandy (Rama First Nation, ON)
  • Gerald Robinson (Gitlaxt’aamiks, BC)
  • Gerry Martin (Mattagami First Nation, ON)
  • Gloria McGregor (Whitefish River First Nation, ON)
  • Joyce Tabobondung (Wasauksing First Nation, ON)
  • Nancy James (Cowichan Tribes, BC)


  • April John
  • Candice Assiniwe
  • Chelsea Perreault
  • Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux
  • Damon Johnston
  • Dmitri Ashawasegai
  • Gloria McGregor
  • Jody Alexander
  • Joyce Peters
  • Kaitlin Ritchie
  • Laura Arndt
  • Leonard Genereux
  • Mitch Baird
  • Nora Boyer
  • Yuma Hester


  • Artbound
  • BC Ministry of Education
  • BC Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services
  • Bill Volk Celebration Golf Classic
  • Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union
  • Eric Tripp & Maria Smith
  • The Government of Canada
  • Canada Life
  • Cascades
  • The Harold E. Ballard Foundation
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Ivari
  • Jane & Donald Wright Fund at Toronto Foundation
  • KPMG Foundation
  • The Lawrence and Judith Tanenbaum Foundation
  • Lego Canada
  • LesLois Shaw Foundation
  • Little Ice Tribe
  • Lululemon Here To Be Program
  • Microsoft Canada
  • National Bank of Canada
  • Nuclear Waste Management Organization
  • Omers
  • Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Ontario Ministry of Indigenous Affairs
  • Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
  • Patricia Gouinlock
  • PepsiCo Canada Foundation
  • Peter Gilgan Foundation
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • RBC Foundation
  • Riverside Natural Foods
  • Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
  • SC Johnson
  • Shell Canada
  • The Slaight Family Foundation
  • Suncor Energy Foundation
  • Sun Life Financial
  • Thomas Sill Foundation
  • Wheaton Precious Metals
  • The Winnipeg Foundation


  • Andrea Warnick Consulting
  • Bereaved Families of Ontario
  • The Big Little Caravan of Joy
  • Callum Pinkney Photography
  • Canadian Lacrosse Association
  • Canucks Autism Network
  • Cody McCormick
  • CTMS
  • Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
  • Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario
  • James McDonald Photography
  • Lifeguard Outreach Society
  • Lizanne Murphy
  • My Turtleneck Design
  • Nexus of Guardian Art
  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation
  • Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
  • The Psychology Foundation of Canada
  • Sara Cornthwaite
  • Toronto District School Board
  • University of Ottawa, Faculty of Human Kinetics
  • Wasaya Airways
  • Ontario Minor Hockey Association
Becoming a PLAY Partner

Interested First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, Indigenous Organizations or Indigenous youth-serving organizations are invited to explore our various partnership models and determine which model and funding approach is best suited for your needs. Additionally, through short-term “Customize” partnerships, PLAY is able to partner with any community, organization, or group for whom our training, coaching, and community events may be relevant. Please read our Become a PLAY Partner guide for more information on:

  • PLAY Partnership Models
  • Determining the best model for you and the young people in your community/organization
  • Determining the most appropriate funding approach for you
  • Submitting a Letter of Interest (LOI)

The PLAY program has developed four partnership models designed to meet the unique needs of each community and organization we partner with:

  1. Build a child and youth program
  2. Strengthen child and youth program impacts
  3. Boost program staff capacity
  4. Customize training and coaching opportunities

Build, Strengthen, and Boost are each annual partnerships, while Customize offers more tailored coaching, training and community engagements on a short-term basis. Greater detail on the four partnership models can be found in the Become a PLAY Partner guide.

There are three approaches to funding these partnerships: Right To Play Funded, Self-Funded, and Co-Application Funded. At this time, please note the availability of each funding approach:

  1. Right To Play Funded: Right To Play funds all elements of the selected partnership model. At this point in time applications for Right To Play-funded PLAY Partnerships have closed and we have commenced the 2020/21 program year.
  2. Self-Funded: Your community or organization pays for Right To Play’s services. Open call for Letters of Interest.
  3. Co-Application Funded: Your community or organization collaborates with Right To Play to apply for a grant or to another funding body to pay for your selected partnership model. Open call for Letters of Interest.

Visit our External Funding Opportunities guide for a collection of national and provincial funding opportunities that PLAY partnerships may qualify for. Some of these opportunities could allow for a multi-year partnership.

Once you have determined your desired Partnership Model and funding approach, please submit a Letter of Interest.

For further information on how to partner with Right To Play’s PLAY program please contact:

Melyssa Superka, PLAY Program Manager, at Msuperka@righttoplay.com. Please note: Melyssa is located in Toronto, Ontario (EST).