Community Stories

RD keeps winning: ParticipACTION grant unveiled

February 10, 2023

What’s the best way to help a community become more active? A team in Canada’s Most Active Community can tell you the secret is to get your neighbours directly involved.

Last July, Red Deer was chosen from more than 1,700 participating communities across Canada to win the $100,000 prize in the third annual ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge.

Denise Fredeen with Alberta Health Services (AHS) took part in the successful bid and, as she explains, the win came from a true community effort. Part of the work began with a ParticipACTION Saputo Signature grant to the AHS program, Move Your Mood, which encourages physical activity to improve everyone’s mental and physical health.

“We created mini-grant opportunities through Addictions and Mental Health for programs that reached the community directly,” says Fredeen. “We asked that participants track their activity for the City of Red Deer.”

While the AHS Move Your Mood program made connections through Addiction and Mental Health, the Red Deer Wellness Alliance — a team made up of The City of Red Deer, the Primary Care Network, Red Deer Public Library, Red Deer Polytechnic, the YMCA and several AHS partners from Public Health and Nutrition Services and the community — helped promote the overall Community Better Challenge to the people of Red Deer.

Supporting and building capacity in local programs proved a winning approach, one that helped find and remove barriers to exercise and got people across Red Deer active in many different ways. In addition to this strategy, the link to how physical activity improves mental health through the Move Your Mood program was cited by ParticipACTION as a factor that distinguished Red Deer’s entry.

The key to winning was also to find health champions in our community to help spread the word, and encourage people to get involved. That has been Fredeen’s mission over the past three years of championing this challenge. One of those key champions for the 2022 challenge was Mayor Ken Johnston. He got involved from the very start encouraging kids and families to get active in our community and join the challenge. Other key champions include both the Red Deer Public and Catholic School health champions, The City of Red Deer, Red Deer Polytechnic fitness staff, local businesses and gyms, community associations, service clubs and local citizens that always step up to encourage physical activity like Val Jensen and Bre Fitzpatrick to name a few of the amazing champions in our community!

“We won this challenge by coming together as a community - and now you can come up with your own amazing ideas and put these winning funds to work right here in our community, shared with the people that made it happen,” said Mayor Ken Johnston.

The Community Better Advisory Committee has created mini grants that individuals and organizations can apply for and use to promote exercise in their community.

“Anyone can apply for a grant, so a community can have a lot of applications — but we succeeded when we found each other and worked together,” added Fredeen.

Applications for these grants are open now, and details can be found on The City’s website here: Community Better ParticipACTION Grant - The City of Red Deer

The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is an annual competition and Fredeen encourages all Alberta communities to become involved. See more information on their website.

Participaction Grant 1

Participaction Grant 2