The Ontario Government has created the Healthy Kids Community Challenge to motivate communities, to engage youth to become more active and eat healthier. The challenge is being delivered locally by 45 different regions/municipalities throughout Ontario. Niagara Falls, along with the other 11 Niagara Region municipalities are participating in partnership through Healthy Kids Community Challenge Niagara. About every nine months, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will launch a new theme related to physical activity, learning or healthy eating. The Challenge enables municipalities to tailor programming for their community to encourage youth to participate.
This first theme, Run. Jump. Play. Every day. started on May 1 in Niagara Falls. This theme encouraged physical activity through a mix of active play, sport, active transportation and structured activities. The City of Niagara Falls, along with its partners created the Niagara Falls Activity Passport for theme 1 in an attempt to reach all Niagara Falls students within grades 1 through 6 to get active. A youth fitness station was also built at the MacBain Community Centre.
Theme two, Water Does Wonders targets water comspumtion with youth. The theme concentrates on media campaigns to make youth aware of the benefits of water and the negative impact that sugar drinks can have. Municipalities were also allotted budget to purchase and install water filling stations in public areas concentrated with youth.
The last theme, Choose Veggies and Fruits targets eating habits and encourages a healthy intake of vegetables and fruits. The City of Niagara Falls in partnership with DSBN, Project SHARE and Links for Greener Learning is coordinating a group project that will see a new outdoor learning centre and 40 accessible community garden beds constructed on May 26, 2017 at Westlane Secondary School in Niagara Falls. The project is made possible through monies from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Niagara, TD Friends of the Environment and DSBN.
Students and volunteers will take part in constructing the beds and planting trees and wildflowers. Once installed, partners will be able to deliver programming to youth and adults on how to grow fruits and vegetables, healthy cooking seminars and environmental study. Portions of the produce grown at the garden will be donated to Project SHARE and sold at the Niagara Falls Farmer’s Market to help offset future costs associated with the new community gardens. In total, the project will cost just over $50,000 to complete. Included in the budget will be the purchase of a portable kitchen that will be used on-site and then tour around to different locations to conduct healthy eating cooking classes.
The project will compliment the new 2,000 square foot greenhouse located at the school, where students can learn about horticulture and plant cultivating and diversity.
While the build day is established on May 26 starting at 9:00 am, the grand opening for the Community Gardens is scheduled Wednesday, October 11, 2017 starting at 12:30 pm. The event is labeled as "Harvest Fest" to celebrate the first harvest from the gardens. There will be several activities, including pumpkin carving, face painting, music, food truck and a mini-market. The event will conclude at 2:00pm. Partners will have an opportunity to speak at 1:00pm.
Residents can now start to register to reserve a garden plot of their own for 2018. Registration is conducted through Links for Greener Learning Inc. Project SHARE will also be conducting on-site healthy eating cooking seminars and are available to visit other sites to deliver cooking programming. For those interested in having the organization conduct a seminar, please contact Project SHARE directly. Available cooking seminars are available for viewing online through Project SHARE's website.
For more information, please contact the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Niagara Steering Committee.