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The Review

Youth Friendly Community Recognition Ceremony

Posted On: Sunday, March 24, 2019

Ontario’s newest Youth Friendly Communities will be honoured at a ceremony held at the Parks and Recreation Ontario Educational Forum at Blue Mountain Conference Centre including Town of The Blue Mountains, Thursday March 28, 6 pm to 9 pm.

Youth Friendly Community Recognition Ceremony

We are delighted to recognize the following eight communities from across Ontario this year:

  • City of Brockville
  • City of Thunder Bay
  • Municipality of Port Hope
  • Town of Ajax
  • Town of Aurora
  • Town of Essex
  • Town of Oakville
  • Town of The Blue Mountains

This year’s recipients have been recognized for their outstanding commitment to promoting youth engagement in meaningful and ongoing ways in many facets of community life. Mayors, councillors, youth and community partners from the Youth Friendly Communities will take part in this celebration of youth.

Play Works, an independent group of organizations committed to encouraging and promoting a greater investment in youth play, established the Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program in 2005. It acknowledges the great work that is being done in communities across Ontario to ensure that youth (ages 13-19) have continuous access to opportunities for leadership and engagement ranging from arts to recreation to civic leadership. The rigorous selection process requires communities to meet at least ten of sixteen youth-friendly criteria.

Currently there are 46 Ontario communities have been recognized as Youth Friendly. These communities represent more than 40% of Ontario’s population.  A complete list of communities can be found at:

Parks and Recreation Ontario acts as the secretariat for Play Works and administers the Youth Friendly Community Recognition Program. Youth Friendly Communities can work towards different levels of recognition - Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum - depending on the number of criteria they meet. Many communities have applied in successive years in order to achieve Platinum Status. “These cities and towns have taken a whole-community approach to youth engagement,” states Parks and Recreation Ontario CEO, Cathy Denyer. “They have made significant efforts to meet youth where they are at and give them a voice and an active role in decision making. We are seeing great results as youth are empowered to take leadership roles and contribute to the overall health and vibrancy of their schools, neighbourhoods and communities.”

Event Details: Youth Friendly Community Recognition Ceremony

Date: March 28, 2019 Time: 6 pm to 9 pm

Location: Blue Mountain Conference Centre, Town of The Blue Mountains


Play Works is a group of organizations that are concerned about the future of our youth and have joined forces to enhance youth engagement in communities across Ontario. The Play Works Partners are: 4-H Ontario, Arts Network for Children and Youth, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada – Central Region, Ophea, Parks and Recreation Ontario, YMCA Ontario 

What is the power of play?
Play isn't all fun and games. It's not just in a park or a gym and it's not just for children. Play is diving off the high board, making pottery, throwing a snowball, dreaming on a lawn. It's all about shaping, learning and inspiring. A game of chess ignites reasoning. A run in the park builds endurance and strength. Volunteering at an art gallery develops social responsibility. Play also helps prepare youth for future endeavors. Youth councils develop an interest in local politics, promote youth advocacy, and engage youth within ther community. Play is crucial for the social, physical, intellectual, emotional and civic development of youth. Play works.

So, what's the big deal?

  • Places to play are becoming less accessible to adolescent youth.
  • Cutbacks mean fewer activities for youth.
  • Unsupervised activities for youth are seen as too risky.
  • Volunteers and leaders are ready to burn out.

What does all this mean? Less youth participation. And that can mean more crime, drug use, complaints about loitering, and has contributed to a 50 per cent increase in childhood obesity over the last 15 years.

Ontario needs to come out and play!



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