The Ontario government will be investing $1.6 million over four years in an innovative facility that will combine sports, education and research to help support at-risk youth in the Greater Toronto Area.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Children and Youth Services Tracey MacCharles were on hand at the MLSE LaunchPad construction site on Feb. 11 to make the announcement. The centre, to be located in Moss Park at 261 Jarvis Street, is set to open in 2017.
“MLSE LaunchPad will encourage teamwork and give young people the discipline and determination to help them tackle any challenge they face in life,” said Premier Wynne in a press release. “Our government is pleased to support these innovative programs, which will help youth develop the skills and habits they need to reach their full potential.”
The centre will give 200,000 children and young adults from ages six to 25 access to a multipurpose gymnasium, classrooms and a teaching kitchen, which they may not have access to in their own underserviced communities around the GTA. 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.
MLSE LaunchPad, a joint effort between the MLSE Foundation, Toronto Community Housing Corporation and the City of Toronto, is the first facility of its kind in North America and will help support evaluation and research efforts associated with Ontario’s Youth Strategy, Stepping Up.
This investment is part of Ontario’s $55-million enhanced Ontario Youth Action Plan, which supports at-risk youth. In addition to Ontario’s funding, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is providing nearly $3.1 million at maturity to Toronto community organizations through the enhanced Ontario Youth Action Plan. This funding will go toward promoting youth mentorship, restorative justice and gang prevention programs.