(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Joss)

A grant of nearly $520K seeks to make health a priority in CK

Several community partners in Chatham-Kent are working together to better the health of the community.

The YMCA of Southwestern Ontario has received a $519,400 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for a Physical Literacy Action Plan. The grant will be used over a 36-month period, which will aim to get more people involved in being physically active and health conscious — especially those around children or youth.

Kathi Lomas McGee, senior vice president of operations with the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, said it’s exciting to receive the grant and put it to use in Chatham-Kent.

“Really what we’re focusing on is forming a multi-sector alliance, aimed at building capacity to those that are directly working with children and youth,” she said. “We’re hoping to do that through a development of best practices, tools, network resources, and almost provide what would be comparable to a certification program in physical literacy.”

According to a media release from the YMCA, over 60 per cent of adults and 40 per cent of youth in Chatham-Kent are overweight or obese. Health officials had previously warned of the unhealthy habits that lead to certain diseases. In 2017, Chatham-Kent was identified as having a significantly higher rate of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, compared to other parts of the province.

Lomas McGee said by creating a physically active community, it shapes a healthy future for more people.

“One way of really getting at that is by focussing on our children and youth,” she said. “We all have the opportunity to influence children and youth so that’s why this project is so exciting. We’re all partnering together to really try to have an impact over the next three years.”

Lomas McGee said the application for the grant was filed last year. Partners that will be working towards the strategy include the YMCA, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, the Lambton-Kent District School Board, the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, and Sport for Life.