Over the last decade there has been a tremendous push for increased sport infrastructure in Ontario, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area where demand is high. TORONTO2015 was part of this spark, but I believe sport enthusiasts and community-driven leaders have succeeded in convincing those in powerful positions about the positive impact sport has on marginalized communities and youth. So it comes as no surprise that Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment (MLSE) has taken the lead on a fantastic initiative in downtown Toronto called MLSE LaunchPad.
MLSE LaunchPad — in partnership with the MLSE Foundation, Toronto Community Housing Corporation and City of Toronto — will transform a space at 261 Jarvis Street (in the heart of Moss Park) that has been vacant for two decades. A 42,000 sq ft facility will be built and dedicated to Sport For Development* programming and address a range of community priorities such as education, improved health and community safety. It will be the first of its kind in North America.
Opening in 2017, MLSE LaunchPad will include a multipurpose gymnasium, classrooms and a teaching kitchen. It will feature programming seven days a week that will focus on four pillars with sport at the core: healthy body; healthy mind; ready for school; ready for work. The facility will encourage teamwork, resilience and striving for excellence; promote a healthy and active lifestyle; provide education on nutrition to encourage healthy eating habits; and teach life skills to prepare young people for school and work.
Additionally, the Ontario Government is investing $1.6 million over four years, which will support evaluation and research team staffing, training and support for non-profit organizations to develop their youth service capacity and the development of measurement indicators and baseline metrics.
This is really thrilling! What a win for residents of Moss Park and the city as a whole.
[*The Sport for Development movement in Canada involves community sport projects that intentionally use sport to build healthy communities, to train the next generation of leaders and to influence government at all levels to adopt more inclusive and robust sport-related policies.]