Town one of 78 community groups to receive grant

The rate of physical activity is growing in the territory and with it, the accessibility of events for all residents.

That could be due to increased initiative and access to funding for new events held throughout the year. 

Get Active NWT grants have been awarded to 78 community groups in the NWT this year and the Town of Hay River’s recreation department was one of them. 

The clincher is events need to be new and offer an engaging way to get people outside in order to have access to the grants.

“They want you to try new things,” said recreation programmer Emma Harper.

“Really what they’re trying to do is get people to get creative and take a grassroots approach to activity.”

Deputy Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Tom Williams said the program was driven by the waning physical activity levels of residents.

“In general, the physical activity rates in NWT residents are very low,” said Williams.

“Just under 50 per cent of adults get enough physical activity and only 15 per cent of youth get enough physical activity.”

The youth activity levels in the NWT are slightly better than the national average.

Still, Williams said the government body wanted to help prevent a slew of health and socio-economic problems down the line by encouraging communities to get active.

The Get Active program also funds the Active After School program in schools across the territory, where swarms of students might be found gathering in school gymnasiums after school for games and activities.

It wasn’t long ago that this program was entirely impossible.

“It used to be that you weren’t able to keep (school) gyms open after hours because of liability issues,” said Williams.

“This changed around the time the program was launched in 2004. It took a lot of convincing that we had to work on this.”

The grants have been accessed in previous years, but this year they were used for a teen swimming event, flag football and events for PHAB, a recreation group run for youth girls to promote healthy lifestyles.

In 2012 the three $250 grants will pay for winter events: a snowshoe day in January, tubing and sledding event at Chamber Park in February, and a snow sculpture creation day in March.

One incentive (food) provides a bit of extra motivation to get drag former couch potatoes into the outdoors.

Williams said anything to get people into the habit of physical activity is a start.

“We certainly see the benefits and larger picture of getting people active and making activity accessible,” he said.

“The benefits outweigh the efforts. It will certainly help in overall reduction of health care costs. We work closely with our partners in health, education and justice and we’re looking at tracking results and seeing return on the investment. But so far, it’s positive.”