Government-funded initiative deals with chronic illness prevention, management
Go for a walk instead of watching TV and have a salad instead of a cookie.
These are just some things Islanders will soon be encouraged to do by the provincial government as part of a new campaign aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles.
The campaign called Go! P.E.I. is a government-funded initiative to deal with chronic illness prevention and management.
As the Island population’s average age increases, so too does the prevalence of chronic illness such as respiratory disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Go! P.E.I. is designed to be a support system to all Islanders, to help create healthier lifestyles and decrease the risk of chronic illness.
Health Minister Carolyn Bertram said transforming bad habits into healthier ones is necessary to ensure the health of future generations.
“We want our children to know how important it is to be healthy,” Bertram said.
“Today’s children risk being the first generation in decades to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. We simply cannot allow this to happen. We must take action now to change the course of this generation of Islanders.”
As part of this initiative, 15 local communities and groups are partnering with government to administer programs and courses aimed at encouraging Islanders to eat healthy and exercise more.
The province is providing funding for these local partners to lead education and fitness programs. The cost of the campaign is $260,000, half of which is coming from the province and the other half from the federal public health agency.
Dale McIsaac of Recreation P.E.I. said he is excited by this initiative and hopes it will inspire Islanders to take on new challenges to make their lives better.
“Go! P.E.I. will ensure that every Islander will be at least 15 minutes from a Go! P.E.I. program,” McIsaac said.
“It will help Islanders and provide all Islanders with the tools they need to add new, healthy and fun activities to their lives.”
The first step is a pledge, where Islanders can commit to taking concrete steps that will improve their state of wellness.
Some Islanders have already signed the pledge sheet and have taken the Go! P.E.I. message to heart. A group in O’Leary started a running club several weeks ago and have been encouraging each other as they get out running every week. Another similar group just started in Kensington and already has 60 members.
Joan Young, the community administrator for Murray Harbour, said these are just the kinds of community-based initiatives that she’s the most excited about.
“I think as Islanders we need to take charge of our own lives and our own health and you can do that by getting fit,” Young said.
“But we have to reach everybody — the seniors in this province and those from two years old right up to 75 and older — but it’s just really important and I think we’ve really just got to take the ball and do it.”