A be active, get fit initiative for older adults is coming to Prince Rupert.
The pilot program, Choose To Move, is rolling across the province from January until March 2017.
A similar version of the program was successful in the United States and the provincial government has included it as part of its physical activity strategy, Active People and Active Places.
Tina Cann, a certified fitness instructor with more than 10 years experience, is going to be the activity coach for the program. She is asking for older adults in Prince Rupert to come to Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on April 15 to sign up. The program requires a minimum of five participants or else it won’t run.
“We’re targeting 65 and older adults that are basically wanting to get active again and put some type of activity into their life. That can be anything from gardening to walking and if they wanted to join a gym I would assist them with that during a private consultation,” Cann said.
As an activity coach, she will work one-on-one with participants to set goals and develop a personal plan for the six-month program. For the first three months, the participants will meet at least once a month to connect with their peers and the activity coach. Cann will also provide telephone support.
In turn, Cann works with the research team at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, affiliated with the University of British Columbia.
The academic centre is coordinating the program for the province, along with the BC Recreation and Parks Association. Researchers will monitor how Choose To Move is implemented and evaluate its outcomes/success.
One of the researchers, Heather MacLeod, said the reason the program works is because the older adults get to choose their activity.
“They don’t have to go to the gym or do ballroom dance. It can be individual, or it can be something that the recreation centre or what the community is offering. We know that when people can choose it speaks a bit more to their interest and other things, like their ability to pay for the programs,” MacLeod said.
The other core component is a sense of support for participants.
“We know from the evidence that the social connection is really important. These people now are connected to their peers who are doing the same thing but they’re also connected to an activity coach. Helping them along and working alongside them so they’re not on their own,” she said.
MacLeod said the goal is to have 40 Choose To Move programs in all different types of communities.
Data collected from the participants and the activity coordinator will inform the province if the program helped improve participant mobility and social connection.
There is currently no commitment to take the program further but if it is successful the province of B.C. might see it continue in some form or another.