I attended the Right to Play: Youth Leadership Symposium at the end of May. During my time at the Youth Leadership Symposium, I met a little girl named Christine. Christine is eleven-years-old, from Wapekeka First Nation. I asked Christine what her name was. She mumbled underneath her breath, “Christine”. I could hardly hear what she said. The room was filled with a tremendous amount of noise; Music was playing children were laughing, and adults were chatting. I leaned in closer to her. She repeated herself in a slightly higher voice, “Christine”. I asker her where she was from. She replied, “Wapekeka.” I asked Christine what her favourite activity/workshop was. “Swimming?” Christine shrugged her shoulders. “Have you ever went canoeing?” She shook her head. “No? I’ve only gone canoeing once in my life. With my brother. My brother didn’t like canoeing, he though it was boring. He wanted to go swimming instead. So, guess what he did. He tipped the canoe! What a silly guy, eh?” Christine burst into the biggest smile, her shoulders and torso bounced slightly. I could tell she had giggled at the idea of me falling into the water.
Christine was patiently waiting for the dance workshop to begin. The music started to play and children began to gather within a circle, Christine and I followed their lead. The dance instructor began the workshop. It was remarkable to see Christine’s entire demeanour change. She stepped out of her comfort zone in front of approximately 30 complete strangers. Right to Play created a safe atmosphere that allowed Christine to feel comfortable to do so. At that moment I truly realised the power of play and the lasting impact it has on the young people we work with. And that’s exactly what Right to Play is about.
Our partnership with Right to Play began in 2012, the beginning of Feathers of Hope. Right to Play has continuously made play an essential part of each of the Feathers of Hope forums. Right to Play significantly impacted the forum participants as the young people felt Right to Play offered them meaningful experiences and allowed them to just be kids through the power of play. Right to Play typically hosts the “Big Game” and daily activities within each of the forums – engaging the young people in all aspects of play. We love and appreciate their practice of having community mentors from the community. We work closely in partnership with Right to Play on the Crisis Response Working Group. As a rights based organisation we appreciate that the organisation is based of a child’s right to play and consistently make education fun and engaging through the power of play.