T.O. Sport Leadership Program: Helping youth build skills to obtain employment

April 4, 2013 Media Release

Update: City of Toronto and partners congratulate graduates of Toronto Sport Leadership Program   
Mayor Rob Ford and City of Toronto staff in partnership with United Way Toronto, the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board today marked the graduation of students from the Toronto Sport Leadership Program. The graduates received Mayor Ford's congratulations in the Toronto Council Chamber. 

"I would like to congratulate this year's 300 graduates who have obtained certification in first aid and coaching soccer, basketball, aquatics and tennis," said Mayor Rob Ford. "These young leaders now have the skills and qualifications to be coaches, lifeguards, camp counsellors and sports instructors." 

Following the recognition ceremony, graduation certificates were awarded at a reception featuring keynote speaker Claire Carver-Dias, a synchronized swimmer who won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.

The Toronto Sport Leadership Program began in the fall of 2005. The first students completed the program in 2006 and to date more than 1,000 students have graduated. 

The aim of the Toronto Sport Leadership Program is to provide access to high-quality training for students in order to improve their ability to secure future employment. The program helps prepare qualified youth from low-income communities to be lifeguards, camp counsellors, coaches and ski and tennis instructors. 

The students receive the training and certification at no cost. Many program graduates are now employed by Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.

"Toronto Catholic District School Board remains focused on student achievement and well being, and we take very seriously our role in promoting healthy and active living starting from an early age," says TCDSB Chair Ann Andrachuk. "Opportunities for young people to engage in physical activity, while developing valuable leadership skills that can lead to gainful employment, benefit all of us. Our sincere congratulations to the graduates and our best wishes for their continued success in the future."

The Toronto Sport Leadership program grew out of Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report, an annual snapshot on quality of life in Toronto produced by the Toronto Community Foundation. In 2005, the report identified issues involving youth violence and unemployment, prompting the Toronto Community Foundation to convene community leaders, leading to the creation of the Toronto Sport Leadership Program. 

The program benefits young people aged 16 and older who demonstrate leadership potential and have an interest and some proficiency in a sport but who could not otherwise afford training. The youth come from diverse cultural communities. This leadership program has expanded into neighbourhoods across the city. 

“United Way is a proud partner of this important initiative that equips young people with the skills and experiences they need to reach their full potential,” said Susan McIsaac, President and CEO of United Way Toronto. “I would like to congratulate all graduates for turning their passion for sport into meaningful employment.” 

“It’s exciting to see the youth graduate from these programs and be able to find their first jobs within the community, and especially at the YMCA,” said Dr. Gordon Chong, Chair of the Board, YMCA of Greater Toronto. “More than 1,800 young people are employed with the Y, and by obtaining this kind of experience, these youth are off to a strong start for a great future.”

The Toronto Sport Leadership Program focuses on investment and prevention through employment, education, training, mentorship, and engagement with all orders of government, community organizations, faith groups, the justice system and residents. 

“We congratulate all of the graduates on their achievement. With a winning combination of dedication and discipline, they are well on their way to becoming leaders in their communities,” said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President and CEO, Toronto Community Foundation. 

The growth and tremendous impact of this program is credited to the remarkable collaboration between the six founding partners: Toronto Community Foundation, the City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto District School Board, United Way Toronto and the YMCA of Greater Toronto. All founding partners have made substantial donations to ensure the program’s success. 

Supporting organizations including the Coaches Association of Ontario, Lifesaving Society-Ontario, Ontario Soccer Association, Ontario Basketball Association, Tennis Canada and the Canadian School of Ski Instructors Alliance assisted the project by waiving fees and/or providing material for free or at cost. 

Established in 1956, United Way Toronto is a charity dedicated to creating opportunities for a better life for everyone. Working in partnership with others, we mobilize people and resources to support a network of agencies that help people when they need it most. United Way also addresses the root causes of social problems, working to change community conditions for the better over the long term.

Established in 1853, the YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity connecting with more than 485,000 people at 400 locations. Serving the population of the GTA, Durham, Peel, York, Halton Regions and Dufferin County, the YMCA works to build strong kids, families and communities. The YMCA offers a variety of programs responding to the needs of the community, including employment and essential skills, education, newcomer programs, youth outreach and intervention, fitness, sports and aquatics, child care and camps. http://www.ymcagta.org/StrongStartGreatFuture 

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Media Contact

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