Springing Into Action
Keeping active is important helping one to stay fit, to have a clear mind, and to be encouraged. These are just a few of the many reasons that staff and the people we serve at Communitas are encouraged to be as active as possible. This spring, Laura Severn, the occupational health and safety (OHS) facilitator for Communitas, initiated a Spring Into Action contest to add incentive and get people moving.
“Enjoying the outdoors, an increased sense of community through achieving a common goal, and an increased sense of health and wellbeing were just some of the benefits of participating,” Laura says. “Having some prizes to compete for added to the fun.”
Spring Into Action invited people to track their various activities in 30-minute increments for two months. Suggested activities included anything from mowing the lawn, to walking, to playing a team sport. Tracking one’s progress was done through a colour-by-number drawing of a running shoe. The more shoes submitted, the higher the chance of winning a prize. Participation was voluntary and drew more than 150 participants across Communitas’ various services. Prizes were offered to both individuals and programs and a prize was also given for the best coloured shoe, which was judged by the OHS committee.
Vancouver Island programs swept the prize categories by winning the grand and runner-up prizes for programs as well as the prize for the best coloured shoe. Meaghan Devlin, the manager of the runner-up-prize-winning program, said that Spring Into Action motivated both staff and resident.
“The staff gardened, ran, walked, cycled, swam, did yoga and went to the gym,” she says. “The young person we serve here completed most of his activity by walking, which was great because he is not an active person by nature.”
The young man was encouraged by the very fact that he was included in the challenge. Having a prize to work towards spoke to his competitive nature. Living on the island and having opportunities to do things like walk along the beaches while visiting with his family made it a truly positive experience. Meaghan says that physical activity has a noticeable impact on him.
“It reduces his anxiety and helps him stay calm,” she explains, adding that it has become a management tool for his emotions. “He’s learned that when he feels frustrated he can ‘walk it off’, a skill that he has really learned to incorporate into his life.”
When he found out that they had won the runner-up prize (and the prize for best coloured shoe) and that it was something that he could choose, he was thrilled. He chose a basketball hoop, which became an unexpected challenge.
“We wanted to honour both his momentum and his desire to continue to be active by getting him the basketball hoop but when we went to get one, we realized that it was out of the range of our budget for the prize,” Laura explains.
Laura had done her research and found a hoop on sale at the local Canadian Tire but it was still too costly. She reached out to Chris Blanchette, the manager, asking if they’d consider reducing the price on the hoop even further to meet their budget. Instead, Chris donated a basketball hoop outright.
“This sounded like a great way to encourage people to stay active,” he said. “We try to do as we much in our community to try to help organizations and charities.”
Everyone was thrilled.
“It was such a great surprise,” Meaghan says. “Our resident was so thrilled, he even helped to assemble it.”
The whole staff team said that having something to motivate them and working together towards the goal helped keep them accountable. That it also motivated the young person they serve together was a bonus.
“I think its such a great accomplishment for us as a smaller team to have won the runner up prize,” Meaghan says.