IGNITE the spirit of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in your community!

Grassroots program a first for multi-sport Games held in Canada

Apply today at toronto2015.org/ignite

TORONTO, Jan. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - To jump-start grassroots involvement in the TORONTO 2015 Games, organizers are inviting Games enthusiasts and community organizations to put their stamp on the "People's Games" by joining the TO2015 IGNITE program.

The program, modeled on the successful Inspire program created for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, marks the first time non-commercial projects have had the opportunity to be officially recognized as part of an international multi-sport Games held in Canada. It is also a first for a Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

The idea behind IGNITE is simple: those with a passion for promoting sport, physical activity, recreation, healthy living and/or art and culture, are invited to create their own special Games-themed initiative or put a Pan Am twist on an existing initiative. It could be a community youth soccer league, a Caribbean cultural festival, a parasport training camp or even an innovative off-the-wall art project. The only prerequisite is the initiatives must help ignite the spirit of sport and culture embodied by the Games.

Approved events, projects and programs that embrace this challenge are awarded the special IGNITE logo to showcase their commitment to creating meaningful legacies from hosting this once-in-a-lifetime Games. Applications are welcome at toronto2015.org/ignite.

Today, students joined Pan Am gold-medal-winning boxer Mary Spencer, Toronto broadcaster Mark Strong and TO2015 IGNITE honorary chairman Rahul Bhardwaj for the program's official kick-off at TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) headquarters.

"These are the People's Games and IGNITE is a wonderful way for people to take ownership of them," said Louise Lutgens, TO2015's Senior Vice-President, Community and Cultural Affairs. "What they accomplished in London last summer was impressive. We want to create a similar groundswell of eclectic projects with a Pan Am twist for the TORONTO 2015 Games that have a deep and lasting impact on our communities. We encourage everyone interested to sign up today."

By the end of the London 2012 Games, an estimated 10 million people took part in more than 2,700 "Inspired by 2012" projects. Some of the more unusual projects included the Great Shakespearean Workout where people sweated to the beat of the Bard's sonnets, and the London Zoo's Animal Athletes Programme, featuring a special Games penguin diving board. Three-quarters of the community projects were expected to carry on after the Games.

More than 35 projects in Toronto, St. Catharines, Brampton, Hamilton, Londesborough and Ajax joined IGNITE as part of a pilot program last year. The goal is to reach tens of thousands of residents and visitors in the Games region through as many as 500 projects by the end of the TORONTO 2015 Games on August 14, 2015.

"As someone deeply interested in improving the quality of life in Toronto, I'm proud to be a part of the TO2015 IGNITE program," said Bhardwaj, president and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation. "With the Games, we have a fantastic opportunity to foster healthier, more active and closer-knit communities. And the best thing about IGNITE is that it's driven by the public—everyone has the opportunity to get involved."

Some of the groups involved in IGNITE include: Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services, the Ontario Blind Sports Association, the Centre for Spanish Speaking People, Civic Action's Emerging Leaders Network (ELN), UrbanArts Community Arts Council, Red Warriors Basketball, Ontario Wheelchair Sports Association, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, the University of Toronto and ParaSport Ontario. Their IGNITE initiatives are as diverse as the communities and groups they represent and serve.

For example:

  • Students in Toronto taking part in the Wave Your Flag boxing challenge, presented by the Mentoring Junior Kids Organization (MJKO), are putting up their dukes on behalf of Cuba, Argentina and other Pan Am countries. Along with learning the ropes, they also have to teach others in the class about the assigned country they represent in the ring.

  • A determined band of rug hookers, organized by the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild, are currently working on more than 40 original artworks inspired by the Games. Each rug will be different and represent Canada, sport and the cultures of the 41 Pan Am countries participating in the Games.

  • The University of Toronto is using the Games as a theme for its summer camp program where participants will take part in Opening and Closing Ceremonies, goalball, badminton, field hockey and wheelchair basketball, as well as hear from elite athletes.

  • Work is also underway at the Art Gallery of York University on an original Games-inspired production titled Relay of the Americas. The cultural performance, set for the summer of 2015, will fuse dance, sport and music from the Americas and the Caribbean.

How to Join TO2015 IGNITE
IGNITE is currently accepting applications until March 1, 2013. Applications are processed on a quarterly basis. Future application windows will follow on June 1, September 1 and December 1 from now until March 2015.

For applications and guidelines, visit toronto2015.org/ignite.

Approved initiatives, which must be non-commercial in nature, receive an official association with the Games and the use of a special IGNITE logo. Projects also receive national and global exposure on toronto2015.org and social media. If you have any questions, contact ignite@toronto2015.org.

About the TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games
The Pan American and Parapan American Games are one of the world's largest international multi-sport events, held every four years for athletes of the 41 member nations of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and 26 member nations of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC).  The Pan American Games are comprised of all Olympic Summer Games sports, as well as traditional Pan American sports, while the Parapan American Games are comprised of the majority of Paralympic Summer Games sports. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games will draw more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and team officials and feature 51 sports in municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10−26 and the Parapan American Games August 7-14. For more information about the Games, please visit toronto2015.org.

Additional Quotes

Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport)

"The Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games will provide the opportunity to once again showcase the talent and diversity of Canadians, and our government is proud to help present TO2015," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "Participating in the TO2015 IGNITE program is a great way for neighborhoods and communities across the Greater Toronto Area to make their mark on the Games."

Michael Chan, Ontario Minister responsible for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

"Celebrating the Games through IGNITE can help build excitement for the event, and will strengthen unique community programs now and right through 2015," said Michael Chan, Ontario Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.  "Our government's support of the People's Games in Ontario is triggering a range of benefits to our communities."

Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor

"The City of Toronto is proud to host the 2015 Games. I encourage all residents and communities to get involved in the IGNITE program.  This is a great opportunity to celebrate Toronto's special role as Host City as we prepare to welcome athletes and visitors from across the globe to our diverse and dynamic city."

SOURCE: Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

For further information:

Teddy Katz
Director, Media Relations and Chief Spokesperson 
TO2015
C: 647.404.5263
teddy.katz@toronto2015.org