The Canada Games Council (CGC) has announced that two-time Olympic medalist Jennifer Heil and two-time Paralympic medalist Bo Hedges will be the ambassadors of the Canada Games Activity Challenge.
A Canada 150 Signature Project, the Canada Games Activity Challenge is an interactive program designed to engage children aged 5-12 in an effort to build daily active healthy habits.
“Jennifer and Bo have been tremendous contributors to the Canada Games movement in the past and we couldn’t think of two better individuals to help us lead this national initiative,” says Tom Quinn, Canada Games Council Chairman. “As alumni, Jennifer and Bo have both experienced the Canada Games and know first-hand how essential being active as children were in contributing to their success as high-performance athletes. We believe they can inspire youth nation-wide to choose daily activity as a catalyst for their own personal bests.”
Jennifer, who won gold in Freestyle Skiing at the 1999 Canada Winter Games for Team Alberta, is a celebrated ambassador of community service including the Because I am a Girl initiative where at the age of 26 she donated $25,000 and accepted the challenge to raise $1 million to help women rise up out of poverty. Jennifer has also had remarkable Olympic success, winning gold at the 2006 Turin Games and silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
“I know first-hand how the importance of physical activity goes far beyond the playing field underpinning our well-being and success,” says Heil. “I’m thrilled to help bring the Canada Games Activity Challenge to students across the country to further build their skills and confidence ensuring they can experience the joy of participating in physical activity and all of the benefits that come with it.”
Bo, who won bronze for Team BC at the 1999 Canada Winter Games and silver at the 2003 Canada Winter Games, captured a silver medal at the Paralympic Games in 2008. Four years later, he won Paralympic gold at London 2012. Hedges’ commitment to the sport extends beyond the court as an active volunteer, coach and role model who is always looking to give back to the sport of wheelchair basketball.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to be part of this great program,” says Hedges. “I feel that it is crucial to get children active at a young age in order to begin to build their foundation for a healthy and active life.”
The Canada Games Activity Challenge will officially begin in schools in February 2017. The online physical literacy tracker and rewards program will inspire the 90% of youth who are not currently meeting the recommended daily amount of physical activity, and support elementary teachers in delivering physical literacy at school.
“In 2017, the Canada Games Council will promote the benefits of physical activity among young people by giving them a challenge,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “With the help of renowned ambassadors, the sport education program will motivate young people to stay active, both in school and in their community. The celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Confederation are a unique opportunity to get our youth moving now in order to ensure a healthy future.”
Participants in the Canada Games Activity Challenge will stick to a daily activity program, based on the principles of physical literacy. These fun activities and interactive challenges are developed to build healthy, habit-forming behaviors in students and will empower teachers with a database of age-appropriate and skill-specific activities, linked to Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model. Students will also participate individually at home, challenging themselves to accomplish personal bests. These efforts will be supported by a web-based application to help track participation and motivate—using the principles of gamification.
The Canada Games has been developing this program with the support of some of the nation’s leading physical literacy experts, along with the help of our national sport and government partners. The program will reach thousands of students across Canada.
More detailed information about the program and the launch date will be announced in the coming months.