RBC and the Public Health Agency of Canada in partnership with ParticipACTION commit $8.2-million to the RBC Learn to Play Project

TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - Knowing how to make that perfect throw, kick a soccer ball or hop over a speedy skip rope is just as important to a child's development as reading, writing and speech skills. The more competent they are with basic movement skills, the more likely they will be to participate in sport and physical activity, building confidence and self-esteem for life. Today, RBC and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in partnership with ParticipACTION announced a three-year, $8.2-million commitment to the RBC Learn to Play Project, a collection of national programs and partnerships that provide children with the opportunity to learn how to play and become happy, healthy and active for life.

"Promoting physical literacy is an important aspect to helping children and youth adopt active and healthier lifestyles," said The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health. "I'm confident that through our partnership with RBC and PartcipACTION, the RBC Learn to Play Project will empower children and youth across the country to build the skills and confidence they need to get up, play and be more active."

The RBC Learn to Play Project focuses on teaching kids the basics of being active. By supporting programs that give them the chance to put these skills into practice, they can feel confident and competent enough to participate in sport and to make physical activity a part of their daily lives. Partnering with ParticipACTION, as well as a number of other organizations and strategic partners, RBC supports a wide range of initiatives which include donations to community-based charitable organizations for physical literacy programs, sponsorships of events that promote play such as RBC Sports Day in Canada, and support for employees who volunteer coach with sport organizations.

This week, in celebration of RBC Sports Day in Canada, more than 185 RBC Learn to Play Project grants will be awarded across the country to organizations and programs that build and deliver quality sport and recreation programs to children.  These grants, ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 depending on the size and scope of the project, total more than $1.6 million in 2014 and will impact thousands of children in the coming months.

"Sport can transform lives and have a powerful, positive impact on our communities," said Jane Broderick, Chief Brand and Communications Officer, RBC. "Through our partnership with the Government of Canada and ParticipACTION, the RBC Learn to Play Project will help thousands of children develop self-esteem and the skills they need to enable them to play, and become happy, healthy and active for life."

Without physical literacy, many children and youth withdraw from physical activity and sport and turn to more inactive or unhealthy choices during their leisure time. According to the RBC Kids Optimism Survey, kids' satisfaction with their physical health drops significantly with age, from 89.6% among those aged 14-17 to 66.5% among those aged 22-25. The study also highlights the importance of coaches on the overall wellbeing of Canadian kids – more than 40% cite a coach's opinions as important to how they feel, think and behave.

The core objective the RBC Learn to Play Project is to help organizations incorporate basic movement skills training into their sport and recreation programs. This in turn enables organizations to build kids' confidence and competence and teach them the essential skills they need to become physically active for life. To see examples of the kinds of sport and physical activity programs that are funded, please visit the RBC Pledge Tracker for a real-time update on how many kids have been impacted by the RBC Kids Pledge.

"With the generous support of the Government of Canada and RBC, the RBC Learn to Play Project will give kids across the country more exposure to quality sport and physical activity programming," Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. "Together, we are nurturing a generation of Canadians who see sport and physical activity as part of who they are."

"Studies show the overwhelming benefits of physical activity and the positive effects it can have on overall well-being, and yet participation in sports among kids has been declining in recent years," said Jennifer Botterill, RBC Olympian. "Sport teaches so many things to kids – like teamwork, responsibility and perseverance. Not only that, sport can be so much fun and allow kids to just be kids, to play and be with their friends.  As someone who is dedicated to sport, I'm honoured to work with RBC on the Learn to Play Project and am grateful to the Government of Canada and ParticipACTION for their commitment to Canadian kids."

About the RBC Kids Pledge
RBC understands the importance of a child's holistic well-being, which led to the RBC Kids Pledge, a $100 million commitment over five years to help one million kids and youth across Canada. These funds will go towards a range of programs supporting the well-being of kids and youth, including the RBC After School Project, RBC Learn to Play Project and the RBC Children's Mental Health Project.

About RBC and Sport
RBC supports amateur sport in communities across Canada, from recreational to competitive activities, and from grassroots to elite-level athletes. At the grassroots level, RBC is committed to supporting programs which help children develop the confidence and skills they need to enable them to play, and become happy, healthy and active for life.  RBC is proud to be the longest-standing corporate supporter of the Canadian Olympic Team, since 1947, as well as a premier sponsor of Hockey Canada and a national partner of Swimming Canada.

RBC supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2013, we contributed more than $104 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $69 million and $35 million in sponsorships. Learn more at www.rbc.com/community-sustainability.

For broadcast quality footage to support this story visit: http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=835.

Video with caption: "Video: B-Roll: RBC, Public Health Agency of Canada, ParticipACTION commit $8.2-million to 'RBC Learn to Play'". Video available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/cgi-bin/playback.cgi?file=20141126_C8655_VIDEO_EN_8604.mp4&posterurl=http%3A%2F%2Fphotos.newswire.ca%2Fimages%2F20141126_C8655_VIDEO_EN_8604.jpg&order=1&jdd=20141126&cnum=C8655

Image with caption: "Are Canadian kids satisfied with their physical health? (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141126_C8655_PHOTO_EN_8555.jpg

Image with caption: "RBC Olympians Patrick Chan, Jennifer Botterill and Jason Burnett joined students, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health Eve Adams, RBC and ParticipACTION at the Toronto Central YMCA following the announcement of an $8.2-million commitment to kids’ physical literacy programs through the RBC Learn to Play Project. (CNW Group/RBC)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20141126_C8655_PHOTO_EN_8556.jpg


For further information: Kelly Olive, Veritas Communications, olive@veritasinc.com, 416-640-4153; Shauna Cook, Brand Communications, RBC, Shauna.cook@rbc.com, 416-974-6286

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