Being involved in sports and physical activity programs can increase strength and fitness, but can also have other great benefits like increasing self-esteem, helping kids do better in school and increasing an overall sense of well-being.
However, as many Canadians know, there are often barriers that get in the way of staying active. Through the Sogo Active program funded by Coca-Cola Canada, ParticipACTION is working toward breaking down these barriers for teens.
The organization is supporting local groups with the resources they need to run youth physical activity programs in their communities.
"The grants from Coca-Cola provide opportunities for communities to have access to creating youth-centred programs," says Megan Sutherland, the Sogo Active provincial/territorial coordinator for Ontario.
"It's exciting to see the activities that youth are creating and the leadership skills that they're developing. With as little as $500, organizations can fund coaching and travel, or secure the equipment or space that's required to get a program off the ground."
"I've run five programs over the last two years," says youth worker, Jacob Blomme. "The grants are key for me to introduce the youth to new instructors that can show them a totally different style of exercise."
A recent survey discovered that more than 80 per cent of Canadians wish more people would get behind community-based programs and also wish that it was easier to get involved.
In 2007 Coca-Cola Canada committed $5 million to ParticipACTION to help get youth active. It has also pledged an additional $5 million over the next five years to make its total donation $10 million over 10 years.
The funding is delivered through ParticipACTION to a network of provincial/territorial coordinators and more than 2,000 local community organizations.
As of March 2012, over 30,000 youth in communities across Canada have been inspired to get active through this partnership.
Organizers say the goal of the partnership is to inspire youth to get active and to have fun in ways that mean something to them.
With the help of grants from Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION, more community organizations are able to access support and funding so that youth are exposed to a more diverse range of physical activity in their own neighbourhoods.
This could be anything from breakdancing to snowshoeing.
Through this program, Coca-Cola Canada is showing Canadians how easy it can be to make a difference and how supporting our local community organizations can go a long way in helping to break down the barriers to active living.
By making a commitment to active living or applying for a youth physical activity grant from Coca-Cola Canada and ParticipACTION, Canadians can help support local youth physical activity. Visit www.livepositively.ca to learn more.