Play is transformative. It has the power to strengthen communities, contribute to lower crime rates, and aid in health and welfare. Play Works is a partnership of six organizations concerned about the future of Ontario’s youth. The organizations represent the areas of sport, physical activity, civic engagement, arts and culture, rural youth, and recreation. They have joined forces to bring back the power of play to Ontario’s youth and are dedicated to advancing the importance of play for 13 to 19-year-olds.
Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program
The Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program acknowledges the great work done by communities to engage youth aged 13-19 in sport, recreation, drama, dance, music, the arts, volunteerism, leadership development, service leadership and/or civic engagement. The rigorous selection process requires communities to meet at least ten of sixteen youth-friendly criteria. Since 2005, 47 Ontario communities have been recognized as Youth Friendly, ranging from small rural locations like the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve No. 26 and the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston to urban centres like the cities of Brampton and Pickering.
Does your community invest in youth play? If so, submit your application to the Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program. The online portal will open in the summer of 2018. The deadline for applications is January 7, 2019. For more information about an orientation webinar, please contact 416-426-7142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building on the foundation of the Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program, Play Works presents the Youth Engagement Project, which supports Youth Engagement Initiatives in small and rural communities with the intent of helping youth facing barriers in volunteering to take on leadership roles in their communities.
The project has three overarching goals:
Support current or prospective youth-friendly communities in the development of Youth Advisory Councils (YAC) and share resources to help other communities create YACs;
Revisit the Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program criteria and application process; and
Provide training on effective approaches to youth engagement for small and rural communities.
In order to support communities striving to be youth-friendly, PRO has identified promising practices based on the work of youth-friendly municipalities across Ontario. In 2017, PRO launched a webinar series outlining promising practices for Youth Friendly Communities. This was made possible through a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Below is the first of the series.