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CMA Healthy Canadians Grants Spotlight: Global Walkers

The Healthy Canadians Grants program is designed to provide support for community-run initiatives that will improve the quality of life of patients and vulnerable populations living in communities across Canada, and will have a positive impact on the community as a whole. The program is a joint collaboration between the CMA and the CMA Foundation and each year up to 14 Healthy Canadians Grants will be awarded – one $10,000 grant to each province or territory, and an additional $20,000 grant to the home province of the CMA president.

Imagine walking around the world without ever leaving your hometown. With the help of a Healthy Canadians Grant from the CMA, in collaboration with the CMA Foundation, the Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) is expanding their Globe Walkers program across Saskatchewan, helping more seniors to stay healthy and active.

The program, entitled Saskatchewan Globe Walkers: Walking Their Way to Better Health, makes staying active fun by putting local seniors into teams that rack up miles by engaging in any form of physical activity. Every half hour of exercise counts as one mile travelled. The program is run from January to the end of April, a period when many seniors feel isolated in their homes by the weather. Team members motivate each other to stay active over the winter months, tracking their progress and submitting their miles walked to SCOA each month. Each team’s progress is posted online, along with inspiring stories and photos, and information on age-appropriate activities and exercises.

Beyond just encouraging seniors to stay active, the program also provides social outings for participants. Four social events are planned during the program period, as well as a final luncheon to celebrate the seniors’ achievements.

The $10,000 Healthy Canadians Grant will be used to expand the program by providing training and assistance to interested community groups across Saskatchewan. The program has already proved to be a huge success in Saskatoon and surrounding communities, and the feedback from participants is overwhelmingly positive. “I love Globe Walk— it made us recognize the importance of exercise. Keeping track of the miles made us realize that we were not doing enough and gave us a reason to increase our physical activity,” said one participant. Another stated, “The more we walked the better I felt, both physically and mentally — my team was so happy with the Globe Walk that we plan to continue during the summer.”

The Globe Walkers program is one of 14 grants totalling $150,000 that were given by the CMA and CMA Foundation to charities across the country to start or grow programs aimed at improving the lives of seniors.