By: Ryan King
PORT AUX BASQUES – Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, it has been difficult for residents of the Southwest coast to engage in the usual community events. People are staying indoors as a result, becoming more sedentary, and lowering their connection to their community.
June is Recreation Month and an upcoming community event in Port aux Basques hopes to encourage more people to get outside and reconnect to their community. The town is promoting the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge that will allow for community recreation while continuing to follow public health guidelines.
Shauna Strickland, the town’s Recreation Director and Economic Development Strategist, says that the Community Better Challenge is a nationwide physical activity challenge and is designed for the community, organizations, schools, groups or anyone to participate.
In Port aux Basques, the Colour Run will start on June 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the Bruce II parking lot.
“Basically, at different stations throughout the route we’re going to have people there with different colour powder and it gets tossed in the air. So people are encouraged to wear white. They start off in pure white and they end full of color. That’s just something to add for a little bit of fun for the children,” explains Strickland.
Through the ParticipACTION website or the free app, individuals and groups can sign up to have their physical activity tracked for the event. The website counts all activity for the month, and everyone’s minutes will be counted towards a community’s score.
When the month is over, 50 communities from across Canada, including four from Newfoundland and Labrador, will be chosen to submit an application explaining why they are Canada’s most active community. A grand prize of $100,000 will be awarded to the winning community. The provincial government has donated $200,000 to help encourage physical activity.
While the route has not been released yet, Strickland said it is likely to start from the Bruce II, down Hardy’s Arterial, then down Regional Street, looping up and around Scotia Bank, and then coming back up High Street to the Bruce II.
“You can ride, walk, bike, you can rent our go-karts, anyone with mobility issues can contact us for a wheelchair to participate,” offers Strickland.
Strickland also admits that it has been a challenge organizing recreation opportunities during a pandemic.
The Bruce II facility has not been running at 100 per cent capacity in over a year, and Strickland says it has been very time consuming to ensure compliance with all of the public health rules and guidelines when they do allow for certain events to take place.
“Outside recreation is something that we have been trying to promote more. The Grand Bay West trail is there, and it’s equipped for outdoor recreation activities. And it’s inclusive to some degree. We have a wheelchair there as well that people can use. Anybody with mobility issues who want to get on the beach, they can call us and use the wheelchair free of charge. It is over on the trail, stored, so people don’t have to worry about actually transporting the wheelchair over, they just have to call down to book it.”
Strickland also adds that the town is always looking for ways to build upon outdoor recreation, especially during the pandemic. She hopes that there will be more outdoor activities to come during the summer.
Residents are encouraged to keep an eye out for upcoming events on the town website and social media.