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MLSE Foundation, Toronto FC, Kia Canada Inc. and Toronto Community Housing Celebrate Fourth Year of

8/20/2015 2:12:25 PM

MLSE Foundation, Toronto FC and Kia Canada Inc. teamed up with Toronto Community Housing on Thursday to kick off the fourth year of KickStart, a free eight-week program for more than 200 kids aged six to 12 years. Held at The Hangar at Downsview Park, participants had the opportunity to build their soccer skills with the pros and learn valuable life lessons in self-esteem, fair play and leadership. Toronto FC’s First Team and coaching staff were also in attendance to celebrate the KickStart launch.

“Our goal each year is to create lasting memories on the playing field, while giving kids the tools to grow their competency in key-life skills and build a greater passion towards the sport and Toronto FC,” said Michael Bartlett, Executive Director of MLSE Foundation. “By hiring and training community coaches, as well as supporting year-over-year programming, we hope to foster sustainable skills that last well beyond the end of the program.”

KickStart programs will be held in 15 Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods across Toronto from August to October and will focus on using sport as a tool to engage youth and their families. It also aims to promote skill-building, community-building and healthy active living. Program participants will meet three times weekly for practices and friendly competitions. Funded by MLSE Foundation and Kia Canada Inc., each host community will be outfitted with equipment, uniforms, activity booklets, coaching manuals and trained, knowledgeable staff.  All program staff and youth mentors are hired from within each community.

“KickStart helps to build strong communities by teaching kids life lessons about teamwork, leadership and fair play, on and off the field,” said Greg Spearn, Interim President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing. “I’m excited to see how the great work we keep doing with our partners each year keeps growing and how this benefits young people in our communities.”
Since its inception in 2012, the KickStart program has impacted more than 1000 kids, trained more than 150 community coaches and grown from 10 to 15 sites across the Greater Toronto Area. MLSE Foundation has committed $325,000 to the program over four years, with $100,000 committed to the 2015 program.

“Kia Canada is proud to support our partners, Toronto FC and MLSE Foundation, with programs such as KickStart, aimed at increasing youth participation in soccer across the Greater Toronto Area,” said Steve Carter, Director of Marketing, Kia Canada Inc. “As the global sponsor of FIFA and the exclusive automotive partner of all three Canadian Major League Soccer teams, what better way to Drive Change than by supporting soccer camps and clinics that benefit Canadian youth.”
For more information about KickStart, please visit http://www.mlsefoundation.org/
About MLSE Foundation:
MLSE Foundation believes all kids should have access to sport and the opportunity to develop lasting dreams on the playing field. With the support of all four MLSE teams – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and the Toronto Marlies – the Foundation funds the refurbishment of local athletic facilities and programs that support kids through sport and recreation. Since launching in December 2009, the MLSE Foundation has invested more than $15 million into our community. For information visit mlsefoundation.org or follow @MLSEFoundation.
About Kia Canada Inc.:
Kia Canada Inc. (www.kia.cawww.facebook.com/kiacanada) a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart is a subsidiary of Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) which was founded in 1999 and sells and services high quality, class leading vehicles like the Soul, Forte, Optima and Sorento through a network of 188 dealers nationwide. Kia Canada Inc. employs 160 people in its Mississauga, Ontario headquarters and four regional offices across Canada, with an all-new state-of-the-art facility in Montreal. Kia’s brand slogan "The Power to Surprise" represents the company's global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting & inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.
About Toronto Community Housing:
Toronto Community Housing (torontohousing.ca) is Canada’s largest social housing provider. We work to provide clean, safe, affordable homes to 60,000 households with low and moderate incomes, in neighbourhoods across the city.
Media Contacts:       
Melissa Perri, MLSE, Melissa.Perri@MLSE.com, (416) 815-5524
Anthony Cozzetto, Toronto FC, ACozzetto@TorontoFC.ca, (416) 815-6126
Marco Ouji, Toronto Community Housing, marco.ouji@torontohousing.ca, (416) 989-9709
Jack Sulymka, Kia Canada Inc., jsulymka@kia.ca, (905) 301-6207