Minto council told In Motion program making great strides in north Wellington

Karen Armstrong,  Heart Health Coordinator Wellington-Guelph-Dufferin Health Unit believes In Motion is “a step in the right direction” when it comes to people’s health.

Minto Recreation Director David Stonley explained Arm­strong was at council to explain the progress of In Motion locally so council could see how money is being spent and the successes locally and re­gionally and what is next.

She said first and foremost “In Motion is a community partnership. We are working to improve the health of our region by encouraging at least 30 minutes of physical activity for residents daily.”

The group now has over 100 partners across Wellington, Dufferin, and Guelph all working on this project. “What we first want to do is create a culture of physical activity, but we don’t live in a culture that supports physical activity. We have to drive, our children don’t walk to school, and the question we begin to ask is, what can you do from your desk day-to-day to increase physical activity?”

Of the many statistics Armstrong finds interesting is 91% of Canadian children are not active enough. She said the new Heart and Stroke report suggests nine out of ten parents believe their children are fit.

“Perception and reality are the exact opposite here,” she said. “We know that over half of our residents are not active and now one quarter of preschool aged children are overweight. Our solution to this problem has been the In Motion project.”

In Saskatoon, the level of physical activity went from 36% daily to 50% in just eight years. She said it usually takes that long to change knowledge and attitude – and behaviour.

Stonley is on the In Motion management committee representing rural municipalities in Wellington. There is also a Minto-Mapleton group that looks at it from the local level.

Locally involved are the Minto Mapleton Family Health Team, town staff, trails group, Palmerston Public School, public health nurses, Mapleton Township, the Seniors Health Services Coordinator, and the Alma Recreation Committee.

She said there area number of stages in looking at being activity from: I don’t really care to be active, I should be active, I need to be active, I am active, can I maintain it?, I’ve relapsed now how do I get back?”

The group’s objective is to know how, when and where to motivate people. “We recognize municipalities are providing funding, but we all own this and are all part of the solution.

The targets are inactive adults and elementary schools.

So far, at Palmerston Public School a lot of activities happened during In Motion week.

The goal was to “get people out there.” Free skating sessions, was one example, she said. A great one was the Try It” program. I have to commend Dave for this one.”

The concept behind it was “how do you get kids out to be active if they are not comfortable in Sports or not that ac­tive?” The “Try it” program had minimal cost, no travel, and no uniforms.

We had hundreds of kids out. It’s a way to introduce Sports to kids,” Armstrong said.

There were walking groups for seniors in Minto and Mapleton. There is a running group now, as well. Some sponsors are incorporating the In Motion logo to make it more visible -. she cited boards in arenas or on ice surfaces.

The group continues data collection to determine the recognition of In Motion. Wellington North has done something a little different.

Armstrong said, “People value electronics because they are willing to pay the money for them, but they don’t always put the same value on physical activity.”

To bridge that cost barrier, Wellington North sent letters to businesses and schools and asked them to cover the costs of public skates and swims. In Mono Township in Dufferin County, they are working with builders and handing out free walking sticks.

Centre Wellington is working with the walkable communities project in its parks and recreation master plan.

She said there are many more things that can still be done and are in the planning stages. One of the ideas being explored in  Guelph is a one-step process to help support families with a number of children involved in Sports.

“All the money is put in one spot, and there is one application, regardless of what your kid wants to do.” The hope is to expand the program across Wellington and Dufferin, she said.

Stonley said part of what they wanted to accomplish at this meeting was to be able to give Armstrong the message Minto will continue to support In Motion financially.

“I can’t say enough about the program. I’ve been in recreation over 30 years, and this is the first time we’ve partnered up with schools, the health board, the YMCA (and other groups) on one common goal. I’ve very comfortable we’ll be able to make the culture shift.”

“I hope we can continue to have the support of council on this very exciting program.”

Money for In Motion is in the town’s budget.