By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Two weeks after 13-year-old Cole Dribnenky won the Communities ChooseWell Iron Chef competition in Edmonton, Morinville received word it had won another award in the initiative to keep Alberta communities healthy and active.
As part of the Communities ChooseWell program, Morinville’s Recreation and Cultural Coordinator Melonie Dziwenka was asked to submit the initiatives and programs the department had started since the program’s launch in May. Dziwenka received word this week Morinville had won in two categories: Building Community Capacity and Overall High Achiever.
Morinville will be recognized at the Provincial ChooseWell Awards Night Nov. 17. In addition, the town will receive a cheque for $2,000 to help sustain the programs started through the Communities ChooseWell Program.
Dziwenka said the Building Capacities component of the awards looked at the number of programs going on as well as the partnerships with other groups in the community to make those programs happen. “They liked that we used the community rather than just what the Town of Morinville can offer,” she said.
The High Achiever component was partly in recognition of the number and variety of programs and initiatives Morinville unveiled during the program.“They just saw that the initiatives that were brought forward were creative,” Dziwenka said. “They went over and above what some of the other communities had done, which was exciting for us because, really, it was based on what the community wanted. It shows that our community is poised to be more active and eat right.”
Plenty of programs
Part of Morinville’s success in the ChooseWell initiative was the realization that for the program to be successful it would have to include things people would participate in.
“It was a showcase to get people to be active and to eat right,” Dziwenka said. “We kind of bounced it around with the staff and people in the community, [asking] what does that mean to our community. I could come with a lot of different things, but I really wanted it to be what the community wanted.”
The rec coordinator said they wanted adult programing as well as easy access to youth programing. Over the course of the initiative a variety of programs emerged, including bender balls, an aerobic exercise using a ball about the size of a basketball. Other programs included butts and guts and zumba, the former a town program, the latter a program run in conjunction with a local business. “We tried to make it more of a package,” Dizwenka said. “Instead of here is what the Town offers, here’s what’s in the community.”
Additionally, active programs were added on Friday afternoons and Saturday nights for Morinville youth. Programs, including floor hockey and dodge ball, have been popular with youth in the community. Other programs involved nutrition for youth and adults and a sports equipment lending library where residents could borrow bender balls, yoga mats, nordic walking poles and floor hockey sticks.
How money to be spent not decided
Although the $2,500 the community received for the Iron Chef award is earmarked for youth programing, Dziwenka said she is uncertain just how the $2,000 the Town of Morinville will receive next month will be used. “Whether it means adding to our sports equipment lending library or being able to provide some other courses, bringing in new instructors – I don’t know what that’s going to be yet,” she said, adding she wants to see the community get the most out of the award money long term.
Although what will be done with the prize money remains to be seen, Dziwenka said she has seen a great return on the program in the community already. The rec coordinator said many of the fall fitness programs, including zumba and kickboxing, have seen increased numbers this year, and that Morinville’s trail system is increasingly active.