Let’s Get Active! Let’s Get Moving!
Early last month, it was an honour to travel to Nova Scotia, with Darren Ottaway, Town CAO, and Vickie vanRavenswaay, Director of Recreation, Culture and Wellness, to present at a special “Creating Active Communities Together” conference in Dartmouth.
We were delighted and honoured a few months ago when a representative from the Nova Scotia Ministry of Communities, Culture & Heritage contacted the Town and invited us to be part of a two-day symposium to inspire more physical activity in communities. They asked Pelham to participate because of our walkable and cycling designations – a Walk Friendly Ontario Bronze and a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community – and because our size is similar to many communities in Nova Scotia.
The first day – “Creating Active Communities Together” – involved “physical activity practitioners” who work for communities across the Province to develop and implement physical activity strategies. Town Staff presented detailed information on how we work to encourage physical activity – especially walking and cycling.
The second day – “Vibrant, Active Nova Scotia Symposium” – included Mayors and Councillors and other leaders from non-profit organizations, universities and businesses to focus on broad outcomes and overall success strategies. I presented on this day about Pelham’s successes in increasing walkability, cycling activities. I focused on our dedicated staff and volunteers – like members of Pelham’s Active Transportation Committee – that have tirelessly worked with the community and Council to encourage significant infrastructure improvements and overall active-lifestyle focus.
But, it was not only a time to share Pelham’s successes and to encourage communities across Nova Scotia. The conference was also a time to learn about strategies from other communities in North America and about the latest research on the importance of participation and an active lifestyle.
For example, there are huge physical and mental-health benefits of simply walking in a few 15-minute spurts throughout the day. Research shows that the “built environment” of a community – being built for the “human scale” and not just the automobile – impacts the participation and health of residents.
Or, that new health standards will not only focus on the number and intensity of the steps we take, but also on our overall movement or sedentary lifestyle over a 24-hour period. And, some doctors in Nova Scotia are writing actual “prescriptions for walking” and even walking with patients in community facilities or on trails each week. (I hope we can set up this type of walking club in the new Meridian Community Centre!)
Special thanks to the Lieutenant Governor LeBlanc and Minister Glavine for their focus on helping Nova Scotians to “increase their quality of life” by committing to a “healthier and active lifestyle.”
Now that spring is here, let’s follow their lead. Let’s all get moving more, get active and reduce our own sedentary living. Let’s strive to “sit less and move more.” And, let’s continue to work to create the conditions for a more active lifestyle across Niagara.