Empowering Indigenous youth with LEGO Bricks
We know that Indigenous peoples experience inequities at a much higher rate than most non-Indigenous Canadians – especially children and teens. Part of the inequity includes a lack of access to high-quality education.
Since 2019, Right To Play has been partnering with the LEGO Group to close this education gap and to support the health and well-being of Indigenous youth. In coordination with Right To Play’s PLAY program, the LEGO Group has donated upcycled LEGO brick donation kits to Indigenous communities across Canada through their Replay program. Part of this donation went to a community in Squamish Nation (Valley), British Columbia, where the LEGO bricks helped inspire an event called “Legos and Eggos.”
“All it takes is one opportunity to change a life”
Rolan Mendoza, a Right To Play Community Mentor based out of Squamish Nation (Valley), British Columbia, explained during the panel, “the [programs] that are happening are really making a big impact in Squamish, and in Canada. We need to keep it going, a lot of our youth are depending on this program. They have no outlets other than this program, it’s really important for [my colleagues] and I to keep supporting our youth and being able to continue to present them with these opportunities”.
Right To Play works with locally-hired Community Mentors in Indigenous communities to deliver play-based programs that promote healthy living, healthy relationships, education, and employability life-skills.
The panel featured Rolan and Ciara Lewis, Right To Play Community Mentors from Squamish Nation (Valley). They explained how the donation of LEGO Replay boxes helped them organize an event called “Legos and Eggos.” The event included a buffet of Eggo waffles and boxes of LEGO bricks. It was noted that this event was the first time many of the kids played with LEGO bricks.
“I’ve never seen our group so concentrated on an event”, stated Rolan.
“It’s great to give them the option to just be kids and not worry about the day-to-day”, said Ciara as she explained the challenges that the community and children face, and how mental health concerns have worsened since the start of the global pandemic. Both Rolan and Ciara emphasized the need for programs like Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) and Replay.
The panel also featured Right To Play’s Executive Director, Canada Programs, Rachel Mishenene. “When I listen to Rolan and Ciara, I am blown away because of the joy our partnerships and working together brings them." Rachel then went on to speak about how Right To Play’s play-based approach cultivates positive identity and positive relationships among Indigenous youth.
Other panel members included the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Saskatchewan Regional Chief, Bobby Cameron, speaking on the power of education, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Deputy Minister, Christiane Fox, speaking on the role of the federal government, and Former AFN National Chief, Phil Fontaine, speaking about education for reconciliation.
Right To Plays PLAY program partners with Indigenous communities and urban organizations to train locally-hired Community Mentors to deliver weekly play-based programs that promote Healthy Relationships, Health and Wellness, Education, and Employability. Since 2010, the PLAY program has expanded from working with two partners to more than 75 across Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Yukon, and New Brunswick. The program reached over 7,000 children and youth during the 2019/2020 program year.
Are you interested in becoming a Right To Play partner? Please contact Corinne Frenzel, Development Manager, Canada Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.