'Right to Play' is good news for northern aboriginal communities

TORONTO, Jan. 26 /CNW/ - Elementary teachers applaud the news of a joint Ontario government and 'Right to Play' program to build the self-esteem of First Nations teens in northern communities.

"We have worked in partnership with the Right to Play organization on international projects and we have seen how the program's focus on play can benefit young children and teens," said Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President Sam Hammond.

Hammond was commenting on the government's plan to work with Right to Play to bring hockey to Moose Cree First Nation, an aboriginal community near Moosonee struggling with a teen suicide crisis, and use the sport to teach teens life and leadership skills. If successful, it is anticipated the hockey program will spread to First Nations communities across the north.

Right to Play is an international organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.

ETFO has partnered with the organization to help local teachers in Dubai, Cambodia, and Benin with play-based learning, teaching resources, and professional development. ETFO staff members have also travelled to West Africa with Right to Play to help the Benin Ministry of Education and Right to Play, Benin work with early years educators, principals, and superintendents to implement a national early childhood curriculum for 3-6 year-old children.

"Our experience has shown us that Right to Play programs can create a legacy of hope and confidence that can lead to long-term benefits for children and local communities. We think that the Ontario government partnership with Right to Play is good news for northern aboriginal communities. It underlines the fact that we all need to do more to assist First Nations youth," said Hammond.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 73,000 elementary public school teachers and education workers across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

SOURCE Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information: For further information: Sam Hammond, President, ETFO, (416) 962-3836 (Office); Larry Skory, ETFO Communications, (416) 962-3836 (Office), (416) 948-0195 (Cell)

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