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April 11, 2012
Toronto congratulates latest graduates of sport leadership program
Mayor Rob Ford and City of Toronto staff today helped mark the graduation of students from the Toronto Sport Leadership Program. The program is a partnership of the City of Toronto, United Way Toronto, the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Toronto Community Foundation.

Mayor Ford congratulated the graduates during today's City Council meeting.

"This year's 150 graduates can be proud to have earned their certification for coaching soccer, basketball, aquatics and tennis," said Mayor Ford. "Their new skills give them a foundation to become leaders and role models in their communities.”

After the City Hall recognition ceremony, graduation certificates were awarded to the students at a reception that featured speaker Paul Rosen, Team Canada sledge hockey goalie and a gold medallist at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games.

The Toronto Sport Leadership Program began in the fall of 2005, with the first students completing the program in 2006. To date, more than 800 students have graduated from the program.

The aim of the Toronto Sport Leadership Program is to give students access to high-quality training to improve their ability to secure future employment. The program helps prepare qualified youth from under-served communities to be lifeguards, camp counsellors, coaches, and ski and tennis instructors. Participants accumulate from 80 to 120 hours of training at no cost to them to become qualified as lifeguards, rink guards, camp counsellors, coaches, and ski and tennis instructors. Many previous graduates are now employed by the City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.

“Through the Toronto Sport Leadership Program, these young people have achieved an amazing feat - they have turned their passion for sport into meaningful employment and developed the leadership skills they need to have bright futures,” said Susan McIsaac, President and CEO of United Way Toronto. “At United Way, we are committed to equiping young people with the skills and experiences necessary to reach their fullest potential and ultimately make a healthy transition into adulthood.”

The Toronto Sport Leadership Program grew out of Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report, an annual snapshot on quality of life in Toronto produced by the Toronto Community Foundation. In 2005, the report identified youth violence and unemployment as issues needing attention. That prompted the Toronto Community Foundation to convene leaders in the community. The dialogues led to the creation of the Toronto Sport Leadership Program (TSLP). The program benefits young people aged 16 and older who demonstrate leadership potential and have an interest and some proficiency in a sport but who could not otherwise afford training. The program engages youth from a range of cultural communities and has expanded into neighbourhoods across Toronto.

“We congratulate all of the graduates on their achievement. With a winning combination of dedication and discipline, they are well on their way to becoming leaders in their communities,” said Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation. “This is also a proud moment for the Toronto Sport Leadership Program because of the partnership that has made it possible to scale the program up since it was established. We especially thank partners such as the United Way and YMCA, which took a leadership role in supporting the growth of TSLP.”

The growth and tremendous impact of this program is credited to the collaboration among the six founding partners: Toronto Community Foundation; the City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division; Toronto Catholic District School Board; Toronto District School Board; United Way Toronto and the YMCA of Greater Toronto. All founding partners have made substantial donations to ensure the program’s success. Supporting organizations such as the Coaches Association of Ontario, Lifesaving Society - Ontario, Ontario Soccer Association, Ontario Basketball Association, Tennis Canada and the Canadian School of Ski Instructors’ Alliance assisted the project by waiving fees and/or providing material for free or at cost.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation media line

Simone Dalton
Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Toronto Community Foundation
416-921-2035 ext 218

Cailtin Stidwill
United Way Communications Manager
416-777-2001, ext. 396



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