Right To Play’s Promoting Life skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program partners with Indigenous communities and urban 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 our latest Year in Review and 2018 Fall 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 map
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 2020, 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

Debra Trask, West Moberly

Ernie Sandy, Rama First Nation

Gerry Martin, Mattagami First Nation

Gloria McGregor, Whitefish River First Nation


Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Lakehead University

Chief Duke Peltier, Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve

Gillian Paul, OKT Law

Jody Alexander, Ottawa District School Board

Kaitlin Ritchie, OKT Law

Laura Arndt


BC Ministry of Education

BC Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services

Bell Let's Talk

Bruce Power

Canadian Tire Jumpstart

The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation



Daryl K. Seaman Hockey Fund at the Calgary Foundation

Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation

The Government of Canada

Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life

The Harold E. Ballard Foundation

Hydro One

Indigenous Services Canada

Jays Care Foundation

KPMG Foundation

The Lawrence and Judith Tanenbaum Foundation

The London Community Foundation


Miziwe Biik

MLSE Foundation

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

PepsiCo Canada Foundation

Public Health Agency of Canada

RBC Foundation

Riverside Natural Foods

The Slaight Family Foundation

Suncor Energy Foundation

Sun Life Financial

TELUS Manitoba Community Board

TELUS Vancouver Community Board

Thomas Sill Foundation


The Winnipeg Foundation


Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario

Andrea Warnick Consulting

Bereaved Families of Ontario

The Big Little Caravan of Joy

Callum Pinkney Photography

Canadian Lacrosse Association

Canucks Autism Network

The Chill Foundation


Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

Guardian Art

James McDonald Photography

John Chabot

Lifeguard Outreach Society

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

PR Associates

Project Journey

The Psychology Foundation of Canada

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Human Kinetics

Wasaya Airways

Becoming a PLAY Partner

Are you from a First Nations, Métis or Inuit community or urban Indigenous organization? By becoming a PLAY partner…

Your community and/or urban organization can access:

  • Financial support for a local youth worker's salary to implement the PLAY Program
  • Financial support for program expenses
  • Training and coaching support from Right To Play staff
  • Access to a network of PLAY youth workers across Canada

Your children and youth can access:

  • A safe and supportive mentor
  • Consistent play and sport programming that helps to build essential life-skills
  • Leadership and community-building opportunities
  • Healthy snacks
  • Potential to participate in sport for development clinics and youth leadership symposiums

How can you apply to be a PLAY partner?

Deadline: CLOSED

Applications for the 2019-2020 program year will re-open in Spring 2019. If you want more information on the application process and how you can partner with Right To Play next program year, download the PLAY Application Info Guide.

Submit a Letter of Interest

Right To Play is accepting Letters of Interest from all First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities and urban Indigenous organizations residing in any province or territory outside of our active programming areas – British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. By completing this Letter of Interest you are joining us in advocating that the PLAY program expand to reach more Indigenous children and youth. Please complete this Letter of Interest to help us understand where there is a need for the PLAY program, what that need is in your community, and help to find support for it.

The Letter of Interest is not a declaration of partnership nor does it guarantee a partnership with Right To Play; however, any communities or urban Indigenous organizations who submit a Letter of Interest will receive a priority classification should Right To Play expand into other provinces and territories.

Deadline: OPEN

The PLAY team works out of offices in Vancouver and Toronto. To reach our team about Alberta and British Columbia programming, please contact Maddie Lafleur, PLAY Program Coordinator, by phone at (604) 428-9249 or email at mlafleur@righttoplay.com. To reach our team about Manitoba and Ontario programming, please contact Lubna Rahman, PLAY Program Coordinator, by phone at (416) 203-0190 ext. 249 or email at lrahman@righttoplay.com.