Sep 06, 2019
Shared by BC First Nations Wellness Champion Shelley Lampreau (Simpcw First Nation)
Today we've got some inspiration from Simpcw First Nation with ways to get your community moving!
Regular physical activity is important for wholistic health and wellness. A little bit of activity each day, most days, can help you feel, sleep and function better. Participating in both traditional and mainstream physical activity helps to nurture our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
This Interior Nation hosts a variety of programs that help its 255 residents stay active – ensuring there's something for all ages, interests, and fitness levels.
Young ones on the trail
A mountain in the main Simpcw village of Chu Chua offers the perfect training ground for the Nation's mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking and trail running teams, as well as recreational users. The trails, built there in the 1980s, are steep and challenging.
“Our youth trail running group trained for the Dirty Feet Series in Kamloops," says Shelley Lampreau, who is Simpcw's Health Director and a FNHDA Board Member. “When they went to the Harper Mountain 5km race, they got to the end and said it wasn't nearly as challenging as our own trails. When you learn to run these trails, every other run will seem easy."
Photo: (Top) Shelley runs the trails at Chu Chua; (Below) Youth Trail Runners.
The youth snowboarding team uses the trails to keep their conditioning in the off season, and the youth mountain biking team uses them to prepare for races. The quality of trails has helped them to gain national recognition.
Compared to adults, children need more physical activity each day to stay healthy and well. For children, guidelines suggest 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous physical activity per day. Youth programs like the ones offered at Simpcw are great examples of building the foundations of physical activity for children early to support active living throughout their lives.
It's not just kids who are using the trails, however.
Shelley organizes a “Sunday Runday" for anyone who wants to train for a Tough Mudder race, which often has about 14 participants. The runs cater to a variety of fitness levels, with some deciding to run the trails and others to hike or walk.
To get ready for the obstacles the race presents, the crew gets up early to run the mountain, then jump in the river. In the winter, that means icicles on their legs for the rest of the run!
Several members of Chief & Council are active participants in Simpcw's physical activity programs. Community staff also have easy access to the trails as they are right across from the band office and community centre. Shelley advises those who come for meetings to bring their running shoes:
“Rule of thumb is that if you are coming for a meeting with me, you have to go for a trail run," she says. Her strategy has brought staff visiting from FNHA and Interior Health out onto the trail.
Getting active off the mountain
For community members who prefer to get active indoors, fitness classes are available four days a week at the Community Centre. These include specialized programs for Elders and youth, as well as adults. Certified coach and former silver medal boxer Kali Ann Gawley offers boxing and dancing classes, too. Boys and girls on the Nation's competitive dance team travel across the province show off their moves.
Others who prefer team sports can join the Nation's volleyball, basketball and fastball teams. And there's always canoeing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing as well!
Sharing their success
So, how did Shelley and Simpcw get these physical activity programs up and running? About five years ago she asked chief and council for a start-up grant of $6000. From there, she applied for additional funding from Interior Health and now has transitioned to funding through Heritage Trust.
Having a wellness champion like Shelley take an active role in keeping programs going has been key. But, she also explains that success has come simply because community members are eager to join – not surprising as it sounds like they have something for everyone!
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We invite all Indigenous peoples across BC to join us in our FNHA 30x30 Active Challenge during the month of September!
Sign up and learn more about the 30x30 Active Challenge