For all of the physical activity choices the Powell River region has to offer, the rates of obesity, high blood pressure and arthritis are among the worst in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) area.
One of the aims of the inaugural Powell River Wellness Project is to encourage a healthier lifestyle for all residents.
According to Powell River Community Foundation’s 2015 Vital Signs report, the region has one of the worst obesity rates in the VCH area, close to 40 per cent, compared to 17 per cent for the rest of the region.
High blood pressure in Powell River is also one of the worst in the area statistically, at almost 30 percent, while the entire VCH region total is at 14.5 per cent. Arthritis is another concern, with the region exceeding the VCH average by 8.5 per cent.
Powell River resident Ron Woznow initiated the Powell River Wellness Project to encourage and educate community members to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Woznow attributes part of the problem for the higher-than-average poor health statistics to Powell River’s significantly aging population, which is higher than the overall age in BC.
“There is a correlation there, but I think it’s a stretch to say that is the only reason,” said Woznow. “Whether you’re four or 84, there’s opportunities to do small things that will give you lifelong benefit.”
The project consists of two components: a wellness exhibition and speaker’s forum, which runs 4:30-9:30 pm Thursday, April 21, at Max Cameron Theatre in Brooks Secondary School, and Powell River Wellness Challenge, for registered participants, that begins in April and May and lasts for seven months. Each participant keeps track of their own lifestyle changes.
According to project organizer Kerri Carlson, the forum features five world-class guest speakers talking about change, including physical, social, spiritual, emotional and lifestyle.
Speakers are Julie Angus, the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean, Tristen Chernove, who recently won gold at the 2016 Para-cycling Track World Championships, Brendan Behan from Tla’amin Health, who is credited with the highest quit-smoking rate in Canada, advanced-yoga instructor Tina James and event founder Woznow.
Organized to address four areas for the improved health and wellness of participants, the challenge includes four simple tests to register blood pressure, heart rate, flexibility and balance.
“The objective of the project is to encourage positive lifestyle choices,” said Carlson, adding that individual results can help guide participants in becoming healthier. According to Carlson, the challenge has been extremely well received.
“We’ve already registered over 700 people,” she said.
Woznow, who started a similar wellness project in Guelph, Ontario, before moving to Powell River three years ago, expects great results, partly due to the healthier fitness choices people have because of the climate.
“The range of opportunities are just that much greater,” he said. “Because this is a challenge, what I’ve learned about Powell River is there’s a great pride in doing things collectively.”
For more information, go to prwellnessproject.com.