After two and a half years of spreading healthy living information, the Healthy Kids Community Challenge is coming to an end.

Timmins was one of 45 communities across the province to receive funding for this project aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle to families in the area. The challenge focused on four main themes including Run Jump Play Everyday, Water Does Wonders, Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit and Power Off and Play. Project Manager Madison Mizzau says this initiative really brought together community organizations from different sectors like public health, education and recreation together to bring fun to learning about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Mizzau says she is proud of the work done in the community and some of the lasting messages and permanent equipment now in Timmins. “We really wanted to make sure that there was a legacy piece for each theme, that once the Healthy Kids Community Challenge was over there would still be a lasting impact and environmental supports for the community to use and continue to include healthy behaviours into their lives.” These legacy pieces include:

  • Run Jump Play Everyday brought outdoor fitness equipment to Participark
  • Water Does Wonders helped install water bottle refill stations at two local parks, as well as 14 schools and non-profit organizations
  • Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit helped bring Tower Gardens to 20 schools so students can learn about growing and eating vegetables
  • Power Off and Play helped the Timmins Public Library create outdoor reading kits

Mizzau says she has received feedback from families and community partners that the fun activities and messaging helped teach their kids about living a healthy life. “We’ve heard stories about how their kids drink more water now after the water bottle challenge that Healthy Kids did with the school’s last spring.” She adds that participation numbers from the programs show that the more activities that were planned, the number of families participating increased.

The challenge was originally supposed to end in March when Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funding was ending, but the provincial government at the time extended the funding allotment until now. Mizzau says this is because the initiative and messaging was doing well.

She says the challenge will be coming to an end, but the healthy living messages will continue thanks to some great community partners. “We had great community partners come together for the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, and those partners will provide that messaging and information for families who would like to continue incorporating these healthy behaviours into their lives.” Mizzau says the steering committee will continue to plan programs and activities. She says without provincial funding coming in, it is not certain in what capacity this will be.