By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Kids of Oshawa will be getting more active thanks to new funds from the province.
Dipika Damerla, Ontario’s associate minister of health and long-term care, was in the city recently to announce that the province will be providing Oshawa up to $1.125 million to help fund local projects that will get youth active and eating healthy.
The money coming Oshawa’s way is part of $33.5 million the province has said it will invest over the next three years for the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, which will see 45 communities across the province work to promote healthy eating, active living and healthy choices for kids.
“This is not about being thin. This is about being a healthy weight. And what we know is that kids who have good habits and are into healthy things when they’re young are more likely to grow up to be adults…with healthy weights,” Damerla, who is also the MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, said in a press conference announcing the funding.
Locally, the city will be teaming up with several community groups – including both the Durham District and Durham Catholic District school boards, the Boys and Girls Club of Durham, Durham YMCA and the Métis Nation of Ontario – to create local program options to help kids be more active.
“(We want to see) anything that gets kids active. Physical fitness is key, whether you run, jump, hoola hoop or jog…it’s an opportunity to get out and do something other than sitting still. That’s something we need to remember – even walking makes a big difference in somebody’s life,” Mayor John Henry said following the press conference, adding that the program is fully funded by the province.
A 2012 study by Statistics Canada found that 31.5 per cent of children ages five through 17 are overweight. And that number has been on the rise in decades past, with the British Medical Journal noting Canadian childhood obesity rates were five per cent in 1981 and 17 per cent in 1996.