By Jasmine Franklin
“It started with a link to the importance of physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle to reduce the chance of diabetes,” said co-ordinator Melissa Deleary with the Assembly of First Nations. “Students are starting to recognize the importance of being role models in the community.”
The challenge involves 1,300 First Nations students throughout Canada who engage in 30 minutes of physical activity each day in 10-minute intervals. The event is put on through the AFN, the national organization representing First Nations in Canada.
The Samson Cree Nation in Hobbema had their own fitness challenge that ended in September, said Kira Buffalo, administrative assistant with Samson youth and sport develeopment.
“We had over 300 people,” Buffalo said. “There was one guy who came in weighing around 300 pounds but after the challenge weight just under 200 pounds. It was great!”
Participants in the Samson Cree fitness challenge were given nutrition guides and a work out schedule and left to do it on their own.
The official launch of the national event was Oct. 15 and it runs until Nov. 14.
“We really wanted to instill the importance of physical activity in children and youth this year,” Deleary said. “The kids have said that they really enjoy the activities.
Feedback Deleary has received commends the work of the program recognizing that children are really enjoying the activities such as freeze tag, walking or dancing.
“We are so pleased to have such a positive response from teachers and students,” said Kathleen McHugh AFN women’s council chair. “We are concerned about the high rates of diabetes in our communities, especially among our youth.”
Top performers and team will enter their names into a draw where prizes such as a Pittsburg Penguin hockey jersey signed by Kris Letang, a one-day community fitness training session and T-shirts from ultra-marathon runner Ray Zahab, Nike Air Native N7 shoes for the entire team, a Nike package including a bag, water bottle, socks, and T-shirt, and a “Life Partners” painting by Harry Wilmot can be won.
Winners will be announced in December.