(Aurora, Ontario, September 18, 2016) – Aurora will become “Canada’s Most Active Community.” The declaration was made by Activate Aurora chair Ron Weese during a launch ceremony Sunday held in front of a packed gym at the Aurora Family Leisure Complex.
A $ 749,500 investment by the Ontario Trillium Foundation will allow for the development of a cross-sector program that will serve as a model for other jurisdictions wishing to build an active and healthy community.
“Congratulations to Activate Aurora on receiving an Ontario Trillium Grant,” said Chris Ballard, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora. “Aurora has declared it will become Canada’s Most Active Community by 2020 and this funding will help it to make good on that promise. Too many Ontarians face serious health issues including type-2 diabetes, childhood obesity and mental health challenges. Activate Aurora’s program will help people face these issues head-on by fostering and encouraging an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for residents of all ages.”
The three-year project led by Activate Aurora, a broad cross-sectorial collaboration of community partners, has embarked on a bold mission to increase physical activity levels in at least half of the town’s population.
“Childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes and the negative physical, emotional and social outcomes that follow are currently one of our most pressing health problems,” said Ron Weese, Chair of the Activate Aurora Working Group. “So significant are these and problems related to inactivity and poor diet, that Statistics Canada projects for the first time in Canada’s history, children born today will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.”
Guest speaker via video ‘Man in Motion’ Rick Hansen gave a shout-out to the children, parents and teachers in attendance from Rick Hansen Elementary School, the first Activate Aurora-designated school. “I am very impressed with Aurora and its bold claim to become Canada’s Most Active Community,” said Hansen. “I know a bit about turning dreams into reality because 30 years ago, I set out to change attitudes of Canadians so as to liberate the amazing potential of people with disabilities. Today, you are embarking on another kind of change. I am confident that through collaboration, partnerships and teamwork, Aurora will succeed in becoming Canada’s Most Active Community.”
“Everyone knows the importance of being active and Aurora is doing something about it,” said Aurora Mayor Geoff Dawe. “Aurora is no stranger to firsts and leads by example. We are asking every citizen of every age and ability to ‘step it up’ just a little. Every step taken will contribute towards our collective goal of becoming Canada’s Most Active Community. I challenge every other community in Canada to follow the same path.”
“Aurora has been an early leader in Ontario and the Activate Aurora Campaign takes the community to a higher level,” said Richard Way, founder of Canadian Sport for Life Society. “This initiative you will not only improve the community but will lead change in this province and throughout Canada.”
Weese adds that the Activate Aurora Campaign will include requests for town council to ban tobacco products sales and to encourage a tax on beverages with high sugar content. Removing vending machines containing high sugar beverages from town-owned facilities is an important first step.
Activate Aurora is a cross-sector collaboration which began in 2014 when a group of almost 40 community leaders, spearheaded by Sport Aurora, came together to discuss strategies to combat an alarming increase in sedentary lifestyles. Following the declaration of 2015 as the Year of Sport in Aurora and the formation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Physical Activity, the Town of Aurora along with Sport Aurora and its partners have progressed towards the goal of increasing the physical literacy and well-being of everyone in the community.
With the assistance of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and guidance of Canadian Sport for Life Society, Activate Aurora is now launching a 3-year campaign to increase and measure the town’s collective activity with the involvement of the York Region District School Board, York Catholic District School Board, Town of Aurora, York Region Public Health, Sport Aurora, Seneca College, Southlake Regional Health Centre, Aurora Seniors Association, Windfall Ecology Centre and other community organizations.
The campaign includes delivery of programs in schools to enhance quality daily physical activity strategies, encouragement of walking to school and after-school programming designed to increase physical literacy; building capacity through training leaders and engaging adults and seniors to re-engage with healthy physical activity.
Residents registering at www.activateaurora.com can easily have their activity pooled into the town’s collective total. Activate Aurora hopes to share their technology with other Canadian communities in order to compare progress across the country.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities: www.otf.ca.