Jays Care Foundation and Right To Play team up with First Nations communities for youth baseball tournament

Beyond the Ballpark 2015 to bring Indigenous children and youth together in Kenora, Ontario to experience the power of play

From Saturday, August 8th to Sunday, August 9th, Jays Care Foundation, in partnership with Right To Play, the City of Kenora and the Kenora Chiefs Advisory will host Beyond the Ballpark 2015-a fun baseball tournament that will bring together children and youth from Right To Play-partner and other northern communities to participate in a tournament aimed at meeting new people and developing self-confidence and leadership skills through the sport of baseball.

Beyond the Ballpark 2015 will be the culmination of a summer of baseball programs run by Indigenous communities in Ontario and Manitoba, which started in May at the Right To Play Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program annual summer training session, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Bringing together staff from PLAY program partner communities and representatives from other northern communities, Right To Play led the weeklong training session in Thunder Bay, which featured a new Baseball League coach-training component led by Jays Care Foundation and Right To Play. Communities that committed to running a summer baseball league also received baseball equipment and programming materials to support their activities. Beyond the Ballpark 2015 will be a celebration of their efforts and accomplishments.

"We are excited and honoured to have been invited to Kenora to celebrate First Nations youth and facilitators who have been playing baseball all summer long," said Robert Witchel, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation. "As Canada's team, we are privileged to go beyond the ballpark by bringing these communities together to celebrate their achievements. This weekend will encourage youth to demonstrate leadership, to understand the benefits and joy of being physically active, to interact with their peers from surrounding nations and to follow their dreams."

"Sport is an incredibly powerful tool for reaching youth and engaging them in their education and development, which is why we are so proud to be working with Jays Care Foundation to bring the joy of baseball to children in the PLAY program and other communities," said Lori Smith, National Director, Right To Play Canada. "Last year the PLAY program reached more than 3,700 Indigenous children and youth in regular programming, and central to its success is community partnership. We are very proud and grateful to have the support, involvement and enthusiasm of the City of Kenora, the Kenora Chiefs Advisory and all participating communities for this event." 

"This initiative will provide our youth with an opportunity to build relationships while learning important life skills," said Joe Barnes, Executive Director, Kenora Chiefs Advisory. "Building resilience and confidence of our youth is a priority for the Kenora Chiefs Advisory. We have already seen positive results from the Kenora Chiefs Advisory Peer Helpers Program which provides peer support training for youth to build their self-confidence and reach out to those at risk. The Kenora Chiefs Advisory are grateful for this opportunity to work with Right To Play and Jays Care Foundation on this important initiative and look forward to our continuing partnership."

"Being the hub community for over 10 First Nations communities located in close proximity to Kenora, this is a fantastic opportunity for the youth from these communities to participate in a great event and hosting it right here in Kenora provides an opportunity for the youth to join together in a fun yet educational way," says Mayor Dave Canfield. "Participation in sport and recreation in our youth today is essential in developing strong and committed leaders and we believe that this event will be a fantastic opportunity for these youth to see that working together builds a winning team."