Come On and Join the Local Motion: Learning from 4 Diverse ‘Active Communities’ Projects

On October 29th BCAHL hosted a webinar taking us behind the scenes of four successful and diverse Active Communities projects from across the province.

This webinar gave participants a closer look into the similar yet, vastly different journeys these exciting projects took from inception to program implementation to sustainability.

Each Project was a recipient of an Active Communities Grant funded by the Ministry of Health’s Active People Active Places Action Plan and administered by BC Alliance for Healthy Living and supported by BC Healthy Communities.

The first two presentations spoke to the theme of multi-sectoral collaboration – how to work with numerous groups and individuals across sectors to create the most effective, healthy, all-ages-and-all-abilities type programming for the public. They both highlighted the great need for this community programming not only for the physical activity opportunities but for the strong cultural and social connections that it provided.

The last two presentations focused on sharing key lessons, overcoming challenges and celebrating success. They spoke to the possibilities of creating and sustaining groundbreaking programming in rural and remote locations, and how to infuse empowering cultural and social understanding into their physical activity work.

First up, Shauna Jennings, Manager of Recreation and Community Services with Bowen Island Municipality took us through the complex journey of addressing the lack of a community hub, the prevalence of loneliness and isolation and the need for a safe, active and inclusive outdoor space. From key survey findings in 2014 to the incredible involvement and commitment of multiple stakeholders, the Bowen Island Bike Park was opened in April 2018 and has become that needed social, active, inclusive community gathering place. In fact, it has done more than that by inspiring active transportation –there has been an increase in kids biking to school.

Karen Moraes, the Indigenous Recreation Leader with the Arts, Culture and Community Initiatives Division of the Township of Langley was our second speaker. Her innovative Indigenous Circle of Health programing, which was free to everyone, “sold out” within an hour of being released, highlighting the great interest, need and possibilities for this type of culturally sensitive, artistic and physically active programming.

Both presenters provided key tips on maintaining and sustaining their projects.

Our third speaker, Mariah Robinson from Mid Island Aboriginal Recreation and Culture (ARC) Initiative, offered important insight on how to weave physical activity and culture together. As well, she highlighted the significance of training front line staff to be more culturally competent as a key to building culturally sensitive, welcoming, and inclusive programming. She spoke about two successful programs, Building Cultural Competency and the Land and Sea Cultural Program which are integrated into the community and school, making them sustainable.

Rebecca Tallman, School Counsellor at Aatse Davie School located on the traditional territory of Kwadacha Nation, Fort Ware, BC, was our final speaker and finished this Active Communities Projects webinar on a high note. She spoke about the multifaceted impact that participating in Roller Derby has on the girls in her community. Not only does it promote physical health and activity but it has a transformative power that encourages body positivity, female empowerment, mental wellness and healthy coping skills. She spoke about overcoming the inherent challenges in being a northern and remote community and how important it is to celebrate success.

These four inspiring Active Communities have given us something to celebrate! Please check out the video if you missed the webinar:

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