Red Deerians have one month to prove to the rest of Canada that they have what it takes to retain the title of ParticipACTION champions.
Last June Red Deer beat out 1,700 communities to be named Canada’s Most Active Community — the first Alberta community to ever win — and pocketed the $100,000 prize.
Mayor Ken Johnston said other communities are eager to knock Red Deer off the podium, but they will have to work really hard.
“We’d be the first city to ever do it twice in a row. That’s what we’re aiming for,” said Johnston who led the challenge for his first time in 2022.
“We have a title to defend.”
He said last year he thought Red Deer had a “very, very, very good shot at winning” since it’s such an active city.
“It’s in our DNA.”
Last June Red Deerians logged 19 million minutes of activity; 700 individuals tracked their minutes on the ParticipACTION app; and families and community organizations went onto the ParticipACTION website 153,000 times to record their activity.
Johnston said he heard how some people who focused on being more active for 30 days stayed with it even after the challenge ended which is what it’s all about.
“The primary reason is to make it a lifestyle choice. It’s something you’ll never regret.”
Johnston will kick off the 2023 ParticipACTION Community Challenge on June 2 with the Mayor’s Walk from 12 to 1 p.m., which will start outside Red Deer Public Library’s downtown branch by City Hall Park.
Denise Fredeen, Move Your Mood Coordinator for Alberta Health Services, said there are many community organizations, like Red Deer Public Library, Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre and CARE for Newcomers, that will be working with their members to get active in June. Schools, sports groups, fitness clubs, community associations are also being contacted.
She said having several groups make profiles on the ParticipACTION website to track their activity played a big role in last year’s win, and so did Johnston’s enthusiasm and unwavering belief that the city would win.
“He’s a really big advocate. Wherever he presented in our community over the last year he talked about how we won and how inspiring that is,” Fredeen said.
The $100,000 cash prize from 2022 has been used for grants to promote physical activity and sports initiatives in the community.
The ParticipACTION Community Challenge runs from June 1 to 30. Individual adults can download the ParticipACTION app by visiting www.participaction.com to record any physical activity, from exercise classes, team sports, house cleaning, dog walking and more.
“That’s the good thing about the app. It doesn’t say you have to go to the gym, and you have to do this exercise. You can track whatever you’re doing when you’re moving your body,” Fredeen said.
Physical activity doesn’t have to cost money to get hearts pumping to improve mental and physical health, she added.
People can also create a group for their organization and track their activity on the ParticipACTION website. Families can track their kids activities, sports teams and family activities on the website.
Local prizes will be awarded from Move Your Mood program. All people have to do is to take a photo of themselves being active with the hashtag #communitybetterreddeer, or email the photo to email@example.com.
Another free community ParticipACTION event to learn about Frisbee golf will be held June 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Victoria Park disk golf course along Allan Street. Draws for eight disk sets will be held.