Let’s get our teenagers moving in British Columbia

Canadian teens need to increase their physical exercise every day for a lifetime of good health. Research from ParticipACTION, the national voice for physical activity and sport participation in Canada, shows that only four per cent of Canadian kids aged 12 to 17 get enough heart-pumping exercise on a daily basis. Are you concerned about the teens in your life?

To address this growing issue, Participaction Teen Challenge, sponsored by Coca-Cola Canada, encourages teenagers to establish healthy habits for life and that includes fostering social interactions that build their confidence and self-esteem. The program helps to remove the barriers that prevent physical activity – namely cost and accessibility – providing teens with access to the equipment, facilities, instruction, or the transportation needed to get active.

Teen Challenge gives community organizations in British Columbia access to micro-grants that enable this age group to get active and have fun in ways that mean something to them. The community groups work with local teens to identify needs within their neighbourhood and come up with solutions to meet them.

The successes of Teen Challenge are exemplified by numerous stories in British Columbia, such as the snowshoeing club at Leave Out Violence – a youth outreach group in Vancouver also known as LOVE.  On a cold winter morning in 2013 with the help from a micro-grant, the LOVE team took to the hills of Mount Seymour for a day of snowshoeing with 12 local youth. Many of the teens had never seen snow, let alone been able to stretch their legs on a mountain-side.

 “The beauty of Teen Challenge is that it empowers our youth to be creative and come up with physical activity ideas that suit their peers, in their local neighbourhoods,” says Elio Antunes, president and CEO of Participaction.  “Once teenagers get active and participate in regular physical activity, it can help them to do better in school, to grow stronger, feel happier, improve their self-confidence and learn new skills. A program of this kind can do so much good.”

 Leave Out Violence’s snowshoeing club has been able to make a significant difference in the lives of teenagers in that community, Antunes points out. It is empowering them to take control of their health. If you are a community-level organizer in British Columbia additional information is available atwww.participaction.com/teenchallenge, where you can also apply for a micro-grant.

Let’s get our teenagers moving in British Columbia

James Chung

Founder & Editor in Chief of Hello Vancity magazine. Email james@hellovancity.com

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