Physical literacy is increasingly being recognized as a key component of healthy living, and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) is leading the charge in designing recreational programming that encourages residents of all ages and abilities to be more active. Over the past several years, the region has undertaken numerous physical literacy initiatives, including the introduction of a physical activity trailer that brings sports equipment directly to communities.
All communities face unique challenges in providing equitable opportunities to physical activity, but a common challenge for many communities in B.C. is the long winter season. One way some communities are working to embrace winter and create opportunities for physical activity during the season is through Winter City Design guidelines.
Less than 3 years after the development of a strategy to improve food security, The Town of Oliver has commenced Oliver Edible Pathways, its first project directly from the Food Secure Oliver Plan. Recognizing the importance of demonstrating the project’s impact for the community, the project group teamed up with BC Healthy Communities to evaluate the project, allowing them to show the success of their work.
After receiving a three-year Community Food Action Initiative grant from Interior Health in 2016, the community put some of its own municipal budget behind the initiative, and began developing the Food Secure Oliver Plan.
Northern Health’s (NH) view on community granting is that it constitutes prevention in action. IMAGINE grants support improving the health of the entire population, caring for communities by preventing chronic disease and injuries and by keeping healthy people well. These grants support priorities including healthy eating and food security, positive mental health, child and youth health, healthy aging, tobacco reduction, physical activity, road health, injury prevention and healthy schools action. Beyond those broad parameters, the grants are intended to support projects and interests areas determined by the communities themselves, rather than by the health authority.
Sticking to a gym regime can be a workout all on its own. But living on an island that has little infrastructure to support physical activity takes the challenge to a whole other level. Building multi-use trails was one community’s innovative solution to create more recreational opportunities for its island residents.
Participation in recreational activities with peers is critical to youth development and building healthy lifestyles. But for youth growing up in rural west coast communities like those in and around Tofino and Ucluelet, opportunities to connect and engage with peers are not always possible.
Born in Singapore and having spent many years living in a “vertical village,” Francis Heng has seen firsthand how communities can flourish in high-rises. But when they first arrived in Vancouver 17 years ago, Heng experienced culture shock. In contrast to their hometown where high-rise living is the norm, they sensed building residents in Vancouver didn’t talk to each other.
“That was really strange for me,” Heng describes. “I saw a lot people were very shy and afraid to talk to their neighbours.”
In early 2019, Campbell River announced a partnership with BC Housing to create 50 units of supportive housing in the City within two years. To members of the Strathcona Community Health Network, the announcement was an achievement resulting from years of efforts to demonstrate the need for adequate and appropriate housing in the region, including the development of an equity-focused Housing Needs Assessment.
More and more, local governments in BC and beyond are appointing social planners to focus specifically on improving the well-being of their community members. In 2016, the City of Delta made the decision to create a social planner position to assess the social needs of the community and develop a Social Action Plan to address them. Gillian McLeod, a former librarian with a 30-year career in the public service, was up to the task.