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Red Deer wins national ParticipACTION challenge

‘Good luck trying to take this prize away from us’ says Mayor
Red Deer was named Canada’s most active community after winning the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge in June. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer has earned national bragging rights as Canada’s Most Active Community, along with a $100,000 prize.

Red Deer beat out more than 1,700 communities across Canada during the month-long ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge in June.

Red Deer is also the first Alberta community to win.

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.

The city eclipsed its efforts in 2021 when it logged six million minutes, 431 individuals tracked minutes, and families and organizations recorded activity 15,000 times.

“Good luck trying to take this prize away from us,” said Mayor Ken Johnston about next year’s competition.

He said Red Deerians are champions and the title shows the rest of Canada just how active, healthy and engaged residents are in Red Deer.

Winning also makes Red Deer “a destination for fitness, a destination for activity, and a destination for tourism” and Johnston encouraged Canadians to visit and check out the city’s 160 kms of trails, likely the most per capita in the country.


Red Deer in the running to be declared Canada’s Most Active Community

Determining the national winner was based on more than the number of activity minutes logged per capita. Finalists were also judged on what was done in their community to promote physical activity, how community partners were engaged in the challenge, what was done to reduce barriers to activity, and more.

ParticipACTION said that Red Deer residents rallied together to address the community’s need for better access to programs that encouraged physical activity. Through initiatives like incentivized, interactive community events and social media campaigns, Red Deer was able to increase physical activity minutes while simultaneously establishing a feeling of togetherness within the community.

“Congratulations to Red Deer and all of our provincial and territorial winners,” said Elio Antunes, president and CEO of ParticipACTION, in a statement.

“It was wonderful to see thousands of community-led, inclusive physical activity and sport opportunities created throughout the Community Better Challenge. Getting active together can help reduce inequalities, increase connections between and across cultures, and decrease isolation.”


Sedentary Canadians not making the grade on fitness, ParticipAction report finds

Adam Van Koeverden, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport, also extended his congratulations to Red Deer.

“Physical activity and recreation are an essential part of enhancing our wellness, and developing a sense of community, and belonging,” Van Koeverden said.

“We’ve all been through a lot in the past two years and for this reason, it is more important than ever for Canadians to get outside and stay physically active. Through the Government of Canada’s investment of $25 million over five years to support ParticipACTION, we will continue to empower Canadians to stay active during and after the pandemic.”

A Red Deer ParticipACTION organizer said the $100,000 prize will be used to build momentum and details will be shared.

“The money will definitely be used to continue to engage, mobilize, connect our community through physical activity and initiatives that reach not just one sector of our community, but many sectors of our community,” said Denise Fredeen, Move Your Mood co-ordinator with Alberta Health Services.

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Visitors to Red Deer used scooters to check out the city’s pathways on July 26, 2022. Local paths are popular for those who cycle, walk and run in Canada’s Most Active Community. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)