November 30, 2017

Sun Life Financial and Right To Play to tackle rising rates of type 2 diabetes in Indigenous youth

Play for Prevention program will bring diabetes prevention initiatives to high-needs communities

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2017 /CNW/ - In many Indigenous communities across Canada, type 2 diabetes, obesity and other health problems continue to rise at alarming rates. Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX: SLF) (NYSE: SLF) is proud to commit $450,000 to Right To Play's Play for Prevention program to help combat the increase of type 2 diabetes in Indigenous youth. A component of the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program, Play for Prevention aims to address the gaps in type 2 diabetes prevention by focusing on education, awareness and the promotion of healthy and active living. 

A 2011 study by The Public Health Agency of Canada revealed high rates of type 2 diabetes among Canada's Indigenous population, with the onset of the disease occurring much younger in these communities.

"The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is overwhelmingly impacting Canada's Indigenous communities. This disease is preventable and it's vital to reach the youth in these communities to educate and inspire them to develop healthier eating habits and lead more active lives," said Lisa Ritchie, Senior Vice-President & Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. "We believe Right To Play and their Play for Prevention program can make a positive impact to slow the progression of this disease and help Indigenous youth live healthier lives and we're so proud to be a part of making that happen."

PLAY focuses on physical health and helping Indigenous youth find a healthy lifestyle balance. The program encourages healthy living through physical activity, healthy nutrition workshops and provides an interactive learning environment for participants to learn about the aspects of health that may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. The program first started with Sandy Lake First Nation and Moose Cree First Nation in 2010 and has since expanded to 75 Indigenous communities and 15 urban organizations across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

Sun Life Financial's support of the Play for Prevention program, geared toward urban Indigenous youth who are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, began in 2015, with an initial commitment of $150,000. Today's donation will help Right To Play to maintain and grow their impact across Canada. To see the positive impact Sun Life Financial's donation has on high-needs communities and the transformative power of the Play for Prevention program, take a look at this video.

"Education around healthy and active living is crucial in helping to address the rising rates of type 2 diabetes in Indigenous youth," said Lori Smith, National Director of Right To Play Canada. "We are so happy to have the ongoing support of Sun Life, which will allow us to bring this program to more youth across the country."

Sun Life Financial is focused on helping people achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives, taking a holistic approach to supporting the well-being of our Clients, Employees and communities with the end goal of helping to achieve physical, mental and financial resiliency both now and in the future. Sun Life Financial has proudly committed more than $22 million in support of diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research initiatives since announcing support of the cause.

Sun Life Financial in the community
At Sun Life Financial, we are committed to building sustainable, healthier communities for life and we're proud to hold the Caring Company designation from Imagine Canada. Community wellness is an important part of our sustainability commitment and we believe that by actively supporting the communities in which we live and work, we can help build a positive environment for our Clients, Employees, advisors and shareholders. Our philanthropic support focuses on two key areas: health, with an emphasis on diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research initiatives through our Team Up Against DiabetesTM platform; and arts and culture, through our award-winning Making the Arts More AccessibleTM program. We also partner with sports properties in key markets to further our commitment to healthy and active living. Our Employees and advisors take great pride in volunteering over 40,000 hours each year and contribute to making life brighter for individuals and families across Canada. Read more about Sun Life Financial in the community.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

About Right To Play
A global organization committed to improving the lives of children and youth affected by conflict, disease and poverty, Right To Play has pioneered a unique play-based approach to learning and development. Right To Play uses play in all of its forms – games, creative play, sport, free play – to engage children in programs that focus on making a positive impact in quality education, health and well-being, gender equality, child protection and building peaceful communities. Led by 70,000 trained local teachers and volunteer Coaches, Right To Play's cost-effective, sustainable, and life-changing programs reach more than one million children worldwide each week. 

In Canada, programming includes Youth To Youth (Y2Y), a Toronto-based peer-to-peer youth leadership program, and the Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) program, which partners with more than 85 Indigenous communities and urban organizations across Canada to co-develop play-based youth programs and focusses on improved health, education, resiliency, and employability.

Note to Editors: All figures in Canadian dollars. 

Media Relations Contact:
Yasna Criscione
Manager, Corporate Communications
Sun Life Financial
T: 416-204-8110
yasna.criscione@sunlife.com

Michael Rajzman                      
Marketing and Communications Director
Right To Play Canada
T: 416-203-0190 x 333
C: 647-533-5411
mrajzman@righttoplay.com 

Canadian Ice Hockey player and six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser joins Sun Life, Right to Play, and Elders from the First Nations School of Toronto to announce a commitment to Right to Play’s Play for Prevention Program. (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

Sun Life Financial and Right To Play are thrilled to announce a program that aims to address the gaps in type 2 diabetes prevention among Indigenous youth populations. (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

Sun Life Financial Inc. (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

Right To Play (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.