Dr. Andrew Clark, HEAL Post-Doctoral Fellow, spoke at a press conference on Thursday with MPP Deb Matthews, the Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Chris Harvey, and the City of London's Tony Kyle. The press conference announced a grant awarded to the Child & Youth Network's (CYN) ACT-i-Pass program from the Ontario Sport & Recreation Community Fund. The ACT-i-Pass is a program that provides Grade 5 children in London free access to recreational programming in the City. This funding provided the CYN money to hire a part time staff member to help increase capacity in the schools, to promote the program in the community through the media, and develop promotional materials to increase awareness about the program. The press conference was covered by London Community News and the story can be found here.
Dr. Clark's speech is as follows:
Thank you Chris and thanks to all of you for attending today’s announcement. I would also like to thank Deb Matthews and the Ontario government for their generous support of the Act-i-Pass program through the Ontario Sport and Recreation Community Fund. This funding provides an invaluable opportunity for the Boys & Girls Club to increase the exposure of the ACT-i-Pass program within the London community in order to increase participation in the program and improve children’s health in London.
As evaluation coordinator of the ACT-i-Pass program, I have been working with project manager Josh Archer, and other community partners to strengthen the program and increase participation. In fact, we have increased registration from 250 children a year ago to over 1700 children today. Most of this success stems from cross-sector collaboration among the HEALab at Western University and many community partners, including the local school boards and recreation providers. This University-Community collaboration fostered through London’s Child & Youth Network is vital to ensuring that the program is implemented in a way that provides the best chance of improving children’s physical activity, health, and well-being. Western University and the HEALab are pleased to be part of this collaboration, as the ACT-i-Pass makes physical activity opportunities more accessible to children by eliminating the financial barriers of physical activity, which will get children off the couch, more active, and start them on a path that will encourage them to be physically active for life.
Community-university partnerships, such as the ACT-i-Pass, is a staple of the research we do in the Human Environments Analysis Laboratory in Western University’s Geography Department. The HEALab, directed by Dr. Jason Gilliland, is a state-of-the-art, inter-disciplinary research and training environment which specializes in developing evidence to support effective policies and programs aimed at creating healthy and vibrant communities. The ACT-i-Pass program continues this work by extending our relationships with many community partners, thus transferring our knowledge from research to practise. The extent of our involvement in this program would not be possible without the support of the Department of Geography, the Faculty of Social Sciences, Western University, and the funders of our evaluations: the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.
Thank you again MPP Matthews, our funders, and our community partners for your support. Dr. Gilliland, myself, and the HEALab are very excited to be part of such an incredible project that has the potential to significantly improve the life of children in London.