The Pat Porter Active Living Centre has announced they were selected for a grant for the ParticipACTION Community Challenge for the month of June.

"This is an initiative from the Government of Canada" explains Carrie Bilawchuk, Community Resource Coordinator at Pat Porter. "We received a grant in the amount of $5000 to buy some exercise equipment."

The community challenge runs throughout the month of June as this is ParticipACTION month.

"There's a website you can register on where you can track all your activity for the month," she notes. "The link can also be found on our website."

Bilawchuk says the goal is to simply be more active.

"We want people up and moving. We want people to realize they do more in a day than they think they do. Even walking the dog, taking a 20-minute walk, that's activity. We want to encourage people to get up and move, be part of the community, and participate in physical activity."

Another great part to all of this, according to Bilawchuk, is getting to show people just how active they are without knowing it, plus giving ideas of what they can add to their daily routines.

"Being mindful of the activities we do throughout the day are so critical. Gardening, for example, it's a physical activity. All the things that help us move or bend, all things we do on a daily basis are all forms of activity. It doesn't always have to be a part of a group. It's nice to participate in a group, we have a lot of group activities here, but each group here, even though you're participating in a group, you go at your level."

An example of a program like that is the new walking program that has just recently started.

"It's a new walking program," says Bilawchuk. "We went for a hike in the Assiniboine Forrest. We have people with all different levels of ability. If you can walk 50 feet to the nearest bench, you're outside, you're enjoying other people's company, you're enjoying nature, it's all about walking to your ability. We have a lot of programs like that from yoga to our PACE program. You exercise, you stretch, you move to your ability."

In the eyes of Bilawchuk, getting over the mental hurdles are key to keeping motivated to exercise.

"I notice it a lot with our yoga program; when we first initiated it, people were hesitant so we started in chairs. We moved in chairs, we practiced and we adapted. We wanted people to get into the movements and get into the routines. I'd add things at different levels and after five or six months, we were ready for the floor. So, when they all came in, there were no chairs just mats. They looked at me as if I had horns but we stayed positive and they did it. Now, when I come in, they're already down and on their mats. Things they didn't think they could do, they found they absolutely can. With the right support and proper training, it's all possible."

"It's all about your own pace", Bilawchuk reiterates. "If you need to sit, sit. If you need to rest for a bit, go ahead. There's nothing or no one pushing you. It's not about pushing people, it's about getting someone confident enough in their own abilities. Supporting them, sharing that you believe in them. Maybe encouraging them to try, if they feel ready to. But not pushing or putting on the pressure. Everything is optional in most of my exercise programs."

The more activity, the better chance the Pat Porter Active Living Centre wins a prize during ParticipACTION Month, but for Bilawchuk, that's far from her mind. "I didn't even look into that part. For us, our goal is because we are an active living center... I know we've traditionally been seen as a 55+ or senior center, but we're all aging. From birth to death, we're all aging. So, it's up to us to really learn how to move in the best way possible to keep active. Whether it's physically or connecting socially, it all keeps us connected to the community. The more physically fit we are, the more physically capable, the more we can do. That benefits the community. Just keeping engaged. Showing up for coffee... it's sometimes a lot of work. Getting up, getting dressed, getting in the car, and then going somewhere. I think when you're part of a community and welcomed in a group, you have a good time. It's those things that help keep you young, keep being active."

More information on ParticipACTION Month and all the other programs Pat Porter Active Living Center has to offer can be found here: Pat Porter ALC – Serving Seniors Inc

-With files from Judy Peters