November 20, 2012: Game on: Ottawa Y kids try out Play it Fair!

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On National Child Day, 20 local kids took part in activities at the Taggart Family YMCA-YWCA to show government and city officials how they can be leaders in confronting discrimination and bullying. The event launched Equitas’ highly successful Play it Fair! after-school program to promote diversity and inclusion in the capital, thanks to continued support from TD Bank Group. “That’s our way of bringing fair play to Ottawa, and of putting values into action” said Deirdre Speers, President and CEO of the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region. “As kids, you all have rights. Importantly, you have the right to participate, to be part of finding solutions,” stressed Ian Hamilton, Executive Director of Equitas. Play it Fair! is a program for 6-12 year-olds that is reaching over 80,000 children in 9 provinces this year. It equips child care workers, community partners and municipalities with practical tools and activities to get kids thinking about fairness and how to solve conflicts peacefully. “Play it Fair! reaches children at the youngest age, when we can have an impact,” said City Councillor Allan Hubley. It is crucial that children reflect on how their actions affect others, to help build stronger communities. TD Bank Group was pleased to announce the continuation of funding for Play it Fair! at the event. Cathy Jowsey, Regional Manager, Community Relations, highlighted the very diverse makeup of Ottawa and the importance of the program to promote inclusion and respect as positive solutions. The YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region is introducing the curriculum in its 17 after-school programs, and already school principals are dropping in to ask about it according to Liz McGrath, Coordinator Before and After School Programs. “The Play it Fair! program has helped us to focus on the principles of cooperation and inclusion through promoting human rights, non-discrimination and peaceful conflict resolution. We regularly apply resources from the Play if Fair program toolkit to proactively address current challenges in our community such as bullying, intimidation and exclusion.” Play it Fair! is expected to reach 1,500 more kids this year as 30 more child care workers from various community organizations are being trained to use the program. “We believe that in Ottawa, as in over 20 communities where we work across Canada, children can lead the way to make their schools and neighbourhoods better places to be,” said Ian Hamilton.

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