The Playing for Keeps collaborative initiative celebrates 200 Torontonians graduating as "ambassadors of play" in their neighbourhoods

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - 200 newcomers, youth and long-time residents who have been trained as Volunteer Ambassadors in 2013 through the Playing for Keeps (P4K) initiative will be recognized today by the Toronto Community Foundation, George Brown College and Toronto Pearson in a special celebration and graduation event at City Hall. By building the capacity of individuals from Regent Park to Rexdale and Downsview to Kingston-Galloway, P4K has created a new, skilled volunteer base for community organizations to build vital communities. The event starts at 6 p.m.

"Today's event will be a wonderful celebration of volunteerism and the social connections that are possible through community involvement. With our partners, we have been able to channel the energy of play and fun to create opportunities for residents to become more active, better connected, and leaders in their communities," said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President & CEO, Toronto Community Foundation.

P4K was piloted through the 2012 Ontario Summer Games and named a key legacy of the Games. It is now a featured project of IGNITE, TO2015's community partnership program designed to promote sports, physical activity, healthy living, recreation and arts and culture leading up to the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

At its core, P4K is about people and neighbourhoods. This partnership of over 30 organizations is building the leadership potential of residents - newcomers, youth and long-term residents - and offers them special training facilitated by George Brown College in leadership, civic engagement, event organizing, citizenship and communications.  This training equips them to be leaders in their communities by organizing "P4K Neighbourhood Games," locally organized, playful and joyful activities that bring people together across generations to share an experience, have fun and play. These Games build more inclusive, welcoming and active neighbourhoods and provide the opportunity for P4K Volunteer Ambassadors to put their civic engagement training into practice.

"George Brown College is delighted with our deepening partnership with P4K," said Brenda Pipitone, Dean of Academic Services and Student Affairs, George Brown College. "Together we're empowering individuals by equipping them with the confidence and skills they need to make a real impact on the lives of Torontonians."

In the spirit of fun and healthy activity, today's celebration will kick off with a Neighbourhood Game called Peteka, hosted by the Toronto Sports Council. Peteka is a Brazilian game that mixes the skills of badminton and volleyball. The event will also feature stories of inspiration from the lead partners and P4K Volunteer Ambassadors.

To close the event, attendees will be invited to participate in the Latin-inspired dancercise routine popularly known as Zumba.

"Toronto Pearson is Canada's front door and a reflection of the community we serve. We take pride in that. With 35 million passengers and 40,000 employees, we also know we have a unique opportunity - and responsibility - to contribute to our region's vitality and strength," said Toby Lennox, Vice President, Strategy Development and Stakeholder Relations, Toronto Pearson. "That's why we're proud to be the Lead Community Partner of Playing for Keeps.  At the airport, we're all about connections.  The same is true with P4K: we're fostering connections that are having a positive impact on our region."

This is the second year for the Playing for Keeps/George Brown College Community Leadership Training and over 350 P4K Volunteer Ambassadors have participated in the program to date.

About Playing for Keeps
Playing for Keeps is an initiative that is developing healthier, more active, and better connected communities through play starting with the 2012 Ontario Summer Games towards the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and beyond! Why play? Play gets us outside, connected with others, helps to build trust, and bonds us through laughter, team spirit and shared experience. Over 30 organizations and 600 people from Ajax, Toronto, and Hamilton helped to develop this social legacy initiative. For more information, please visit www.playingforkeeps.ca

Follow Playing for Keeps:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Playing-for-Keeps
https://twitter.com/p4keeps

SOURCE: Toronto Community Foundation

For further information:

Simone Dalton, Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Toronto Community Foundation
sdalton@tcf.ca
O: 416-921-2035 ext. 218
C: 416-809-5036

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Toronto Community Foundation

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