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August 13, 2009
Youth-developed sports pad offers safe space for play in Dorset Park community
  
Youth living in the Dorset Park community have created a safe space for their peers to gather and play with today’s opening of the McGregor Park Diverse Sports Pad. The new area provides opportunities for recreation and performance for young people living in the Dorset Park area - one of the City’s priority neighbourhoods for investment. The new area includes space for basketball and handball, as well as a covered gathering area and a stage.

“Today, we’re celebrating the efforts of Dorset Park’s young people who are strengthening their neighbourhood and building a better future for their community,” said United Way Toronto President Frances Lankin. “This youth-led initiative was supported by a unique partnership involving United Way Toronto, the Youth Challenge Fund, the City of Toronto and the Dorset Park Youth Advisory Council, who came together in support of the Youth Council’s vision for a safer community.”

The official opening of the sports pad, located at the McGregor Park Community Centre near Birchmount and Lawrence, was attended by Lankin, Toronto Mayor David Miller, Youth Challenge Fund (YCF) Executive Director Pamela Grant and representatives from the Dorset Park Youth Advisory Committee.

"We know from experience that these kinds of partnerships can make a real difference in the lives of young Torontonians," said Mayor David Miller. "With the help of community organizations like United Way Toronto and the Youth Challenge Fund, we can maximize the benefits of the City's $13-million Partnership Legacy Fund and I want to thank everyone who contributed to this youth-driven project in one of Toronto's priority neighbourhoods."

The City of Toronto’s contribution to the McGregor Park Diverse Sports Pad involved committing multiple staff to facilitate the capital project and providing the land upon which the sports pad was built. The City will maintain and service the sports pad on an ongoing basis.

Lankin, Miller and Grant toured the new complex, guided by members of the Dorset Park Youth Advisory Council (DPYC) who led the planning and design of the sports pad from day one. As part of this initiative, the DPYC is also responsible for bringing an indoor youth lounge known as “The Commons” to the McGregor Park Community Centre in future.

“Before I got involved with the Dorset Park Youth Advisory Council, I didn’t know I could change my community or that my opinion mattered,” said Michael Kerr, a member of the DPYC. “But today, with the support of YCF and the City, our voices are heard, and I see that young people can do a lot to address the challenges facing their communities, like the cultural segregation that exists here.”

“This partnership exemplifies YCF’s approach to community change, which provides opportunity for young people living in underserved neighbourhoods to collaborate with community organizations and develop youth-led solutions to the challenges facing Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods,” said Grant. “Here in the Dorset Park neighbourhood, young people identified a need for safe space to gather and, working alongside partners, brought two new dedicated youth spaces to the community.”

The Youth Challenge Fund is an innovative partnership between the Government of Ontario and United Way Toronto. YCF makes investments in youth-driven initiatives that use creative, collaborative approaches to engage youth and provide positive opportunities for young people in Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods.

This Dorset Park initiative is a funding partnership between the Youth Challenge Fund, United Way Toronto, the City of Toronto and the provincial and federal governments. A total of $1,350,000 has been invested to support the DPYC through ongoing capacity building and leadership development, and enable the development and construction of the two community spaces for youth. YCF contributed $450,000, of which $150,000 was provided by a generous Toronto family who believes strongly in the transformative power of sport to the health and well-being of young people. To support the construction of “The Commons,” the City of Toronto contributed $500,000 through the Partnership Opportunities Legacy Fund initiative of Mayor Miller, and the provincial and federal governments contributed $200,000 each through the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program in Ontario.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contacts:
Cher Jones, City of Toronto Social Development, Finance and Administration, 416-392-5349, 416-894-5891(cell), cjones5@toronto.ca
Caitlin Stidwell, United Way Toronto, 416-777-1444 ext 396, 416-525-5632(cell), CStidwell@uwgt.org


 

 

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