All Canadians knew that 60 year old Swedes were fitter than the average 30 year old Canadian at about the same time we learned about the ‘chicken’ Swede hockey player who was afraid to go into the corner in the rink. Both were myths but the 60 year old inspired some action. Specifically ParticipACTION.
ParticipACTION was launched by the Canadian government in the 70’s to encourage healthy living and physical fitness. It did so through a series of public service announcements on TV that encouraged Canadians to get off the couch and get moving. It worked. They did. But the program petered out in 2001 due to federal financial cutbacks. It was revived two years ago with a one-off grant of $5 million and the program has had its hand out ever since.
But, man, if the persuasion program was needed in the 70’s it is in vital and urgent demand in the Oughties. The rise of fatties, obesity, diabetes and all the other often lifestyle choice results has created a daunting burden on the country’s healthcare system.
If an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure, then a little investment to get people moving could have a dramatic pay-off, as it once did.
But ParticipACTION shouldn’t just be a federal initiative, it should involve every level of government and every facet of the private sector. There is no reason why all can’t participate in a harmonized message to accomplish the same goal, get fit!
The need for constant activity must become more a part of our consciousness. We need constant encouragement, motivation and ideas and ParticipACTION can provide them.
Donovan Bailey is leading a request for federal funding we should all get behind.
We should stop pissing around with this and get serious. Everyone benefits.