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Building cultural bridges & understanding through sport & physical activity

Rising Stars is one of our Saputo Signature Grant recipients, six incredible organizations from across Canada who exemplify how physical activity helps #MeYouUs.

ParticipACTION is proud to partner with Saputo for the Community Better Challenge. Together, we are working towards building healthy communities, one active Canadian at a time. 

“It all began 25 years ago in northern Quebec,” said Andrew Peters, PhD, founding partner, president and chair of Rising Stars. “We ran sport development programs and a basketball camp focused on Indigenous youth that then expanded into other communities in the James Bay area.”

Rising Stars now offers over 50 school- and community-based awareness and empowerment programs designed to benefit athletes, teams, organizations, schools and wider communities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. Rising Stars partners with local organizations, Indigenous communities including the Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississauga of the Credit, and school boards such as the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board in developing and delivering youth and community development programs and initiatives.

“Our interactive and engaging programs, workshops, activities and leadership opportunities connect directly to youth, oftentimes providing leadership opportunities, as we sometimes work through youth to youth and teach local secondary school students the skills needed to co-facilitate our programming in their elementary schools and/or the local community,” said Dr. Peters.

Rising Stars playing softball


Rising Stars has two distinct program divisions: athletics and education. The athletics division offers sport promotion and development programs such as Softball Academy that are intended to enhance sport-specific performance. On the other hand, the education division delivers programs that teach youth essential living, learning and leadership skills, foster caring and inclusive communities, and make a positive difference in their lives.

“We help youth develop in different areas to empower them and their communities towards positive change,”


said Dr. Peters. “Our programs foster healthy and positive connections among students. They also promote community engagement and the development of life skills, including adaptability, dealing with life’s challenges and demands, decision making, interpersonal skills, self-awareness and resilience.”

Rising Stars


One of Rising Stars’ most popular education programs is the Indigenous Education Series – a collection of interactive cultural workshops facilitated by Indigenous partners and staff. For example, the Life Skills Through Indigenous Games workshop integrates traditional games and activities to raise awareness of First Nation, Métis and Inuit cultures and promote healthy active living. “The participants develop physical literacy, pride, understanding and awareness of Indigenous history, cultures, traditions and achievements,” said Dr. Peters.

Equally as popular is Rising Stars’ Life Skills Thru Sport Series – a collection of unique workshops designed to raise awareness through active learning.  Through the creative integration of sport promotion and development, students participate and have fun while enhancing knowledge and understanding around the selected awareness topic. For example, “Bounce Bullies Basketball effectively moves the conversation beyond bullying to a more prosocial focus on the development of interpersonal skills while building bridges through mutual respect, cultural connections and welcoming differences,” said Dr. Peters.

“The main message I learned from the workshop is that everyone is different, and that’s a good thing,” said one participant.

“My favourite activity was the tag game because it showed that if everyone works together, we can stop bullying.” 


rising stars playing basketball


When it comes to delivering these impactful programs, Dr. Peters cites funding as one of the organization’s biggest challenges “Funding is not always readily available. We want to do so much in so many places, but resources don’t always allow this. Finding the right people with the right skill set and experience to deliver our programs is another challenge we face.”

Fortunately, support from a Saputo Signature Grant has enabled Rising Stars to offer 30 workshops to over 475 participants in urban and equal opportunity schools throughout June as part of the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge..

“In the future, we want to do what we do in more places and make even more positive differences for those who need it most and where they need it most,” said Dr. Peters.


Join the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge

 Physical activity helps me, you, us! Getting active provides benefits for your community and you, like improved mood, increased energy and a stronger sense of connection with others. From June 1-30, get active to help your community be crowned Canada’s Most Active Community and win $100,000!

Download or open the free ParticipACTION app to join!

The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is proudly supported by the Government of Canada and Saputo.

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