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Healthy initiatives for a healthy community

Thanks to the team's initiative, each Kingston Transit employee received a water bottle to encourage regular water intake.

From enhancing nutritional food options of Kingston Transit employees to boosting physical activity among high schoolers, students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies have spent the past eight months applying what they’ve learned in class to the promotion of health in the Kingston community.

For the past academic year, students in HLTH 415: Program Design and Evaluation worked with local organizations to develop or enhance health programs. Their work culminated in an afternoon of presentations to their classmates and community partners as the students explained their initiatives.

“Experiential learning isn’t always easy,” says Janette Leroux, instructor for HLTH 415 and a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “But this HTLH 415 cohort has shown what can be accomplished when we work with our community to achieve mutually defined objectives.”

Five students from HLTH 415 had the opportunity to work with Kingston Transit office and bus drivers, and developed “the route to better health.”

The students achieved this by making small changes to the Kingston Transit lunchroom (adding appliances for food preparation, adding new and healthier options to the vending machine), partnering with the neighbouring ‘Healthy Beat’ café and establishing catered healthy food days, and working with the Kingston Transit office to establish a complimentary fruit supply.  Water bottles for each Kingston Transit employee were also provided in order to promote regular water intake throughout their shifts.

“As drivers for Kingston Transit spend much of their time sitting down, making sure they get proper nutrition while at work is very important to ensure their overall health,” says Ekaterina Manoilenko (Artsci’15). “Our aim was to improve the availability of nutritious food options within the immediate and surrounding environment of the Kingston Transit office.”

Much of the ActivPass team's initiative was carried out over social media to reach Grade 9 students.

In another group, five students worked to create a buzz around the Kingston Gets Active ActivPass, which gives all Grade 9 students in the Limestone District School Board free access to local recreational facilities.

Through questionnaires and focus groups, the HTLH 415 students identified that many students did not know about the ActivPass. The team also learned that 45 per cent of Grade 9 students weren’t aware of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines that recommend youth ages 12-17 to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.

The students then devised a social marketing campaign, and also had the opportunity to promote the ActivPass during some high school assemblies. In the end, the team was able to reach almost 200 Grade 9 students in-person, and many more through social media, resulting in a doubling of ActivPass usage compared to previous years.

 “After Grade9, students living in Ontario are no longer required to take part in physical education class. These students are at a crucial age where making healthy lifestyle choices are of the utmost importance for their future health,” says Mariah Maddock (Artsci’15). “It’s important that the ActivPass be promoted to Grade 9 students so they can adopt lifestyle opportunities which will enable them to build healthy active lifestyles.”