Celebrate National Aboriginal Day
Right To Play – My name is Jordi Jacko and I am the Right To Play Community Mentor for the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program in Whitefish River First Nation. It’s a position I’ve held for one year, 9 months, 21 days and so many hours … but I’m not really counting!
I never cease to be amazed at the incredible impact play can have; it’s so much more than just fun and games, and in my community it’s changing lives. That’s why today on National Aboriginal Day, I’m proud to share with you the story of Anna*, a 14 year old PLAY participant and friend. She is a reminder of why we need your help now, more than ever.
When Anna started in the PLAY program just over a year ago, she was very closed off. She had shut herself out from the community and felt extremely isolated.
At one point, she was having thoughts of suicide.
Fortunately, Anna found the courage to reach out to me and I’m thankful every day that she chose to call me when she was thinking of ending her life.
It’s because of the trust I built as a Community Mentor that Anna felt comfortable coming to me when she needed support. Through play, I learned that we can break down barriers and open communication. Through our weekly programming we build resiliency and critical life skills.
I’ve witnessed an incredible transformation in Anna. She has become more engaged in PLAY, now even helping me to lead programs for younger youth. I have watched her self-confidence and self-esteem grow, and the impact is remarkable! Today, she is eager to help others and has begun to see what a valuable role she plays in our community. She went from feeling hopeless to being hopeful, and it is truly inspiring.
My main goal as a Community Mentor is for the youth of Whitefish River to know they can count on me. I’m so happy they know they can count on each other, too. Together, we can build a promising future. Indigenous youth have the potential to do great things and Right To Play’s PLAY program is helping them do just that.
P.S. I’ve seen youth step up, lead, care, and find a sense of who they want to be in this world because of the PLAY program. You can help! With your support. Right To Play can continue to empower youth to realize their potential.
*Name has been changed for anonymity
Right To Play
18 King Street E, 14th floor
Toronto, Ontario M5H 1A1