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Let’s get moving, Horizon!

By Dr. Dan Fletcher, family physician, Horizon's Harvey Health Centre

As a fee-for-service family physician based out of Horizon's Harvey Health Centre, I am fortunate to work along many great teammates each day - from our passionate nurses, to our dedicated maintenance worker, to our motivated community developer.

We are more than just an access point for primary care in our community. We are a group that comes together to strive to promote wellness in our community outside the walls of our facility. The national ParticipACTION challenge in June 2019 was a shining moment in this.

Participants from the Relay Around Harvey during the part of the ParticipACTION challenge to become Canada's Most Active Community in the summer of 2019.

In partnership with the Harvey Community Hospital Foundation, Community Developer Sheryl Pepin and I set out to motivate the greater Harvey area to go all out in an attempt to become Canada's Most Active Community and win $150,000 for recreation.

To accomplish this, we set out to make use of our "Harvey Activity Challenge" we had started a year before. During the month of May, community members were invited to participate in any form of physical activity, including free activities put on by local organizations - community circuit classes, sports, dance classes and group walks. All of this was recorded on our Harvey Activity Challenge sheets, as participants tallied up their daily minutes of activity.

Staff from Harvey High School during the 2019 PartcipACTION challenge.

At the start of June, all these activities rolled into the national ParticipACTION challenge, as community members logged all minutes into the ParticipACTION app and watched our ranking nationally and within Atlantic Canada over the two-week competition.

After finishing nationally within the Top 10, we were crowned the "Most Active Community in Atlantic Canada" and received $20,000 for community recreation - no small feat for our close-knit community.

From this $20,000 win, we set out to better several aspects of our community that have been hard at work bettering themselves over the past years but needed additional help.

The Harvey Memorial Community Centre was in dire need of renovations to the rink's ice surface. With the use of $15,000 of the community's ParticipACTION winnings (along with fundraising and other grant sources), the facility was able to install new, modern boards, along with converting the gravel surface of the rink to concrete.

Passing the torch during the Relay Around Harvey in the summer of 2019.

With these improvements, the surface can now be used year-round for countless community activities - from public skating and hockey in the winter months, to ball hockey and community events in spring to fall months.

The Harvey Curling Club required renovations to make the club a sustainable community venue (utilized not only for curling but community social events and fundraisers). With the $3,000 given to the facility, a washroom was installed to increase access for community members with mobility issues.

Walking trails also benefited from the ParticipACTION Challenge, with the final $2,000 going toward a future trail in development behind the health centre - with the hope of it being able to be used by patients involved in various programming, including Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

A group of community members who enjoy walking on the trails throughout our community.

Our goal will be to link this trail to various trails in the community, including the Catharine Pendrel Lakeside Trail and Harvey High School trail - what a great example of a municipality, school and health centre partnering for the betterment of the community!

While the funds to complete projects is a wonderful benefit of the success of the challenge, the reach is far broader and longer lasting.

The challenge brought various components of our community together - schools, organizations and those of various ages and socioeconomic status - and emphasized the importance of physical activity in wellness of the individual, but also the wellness of the community.

New activity programs introduced continue, even during COVID-19 (until summer break, our community was doing live broadcasts of community member-led circuit classes).

Moving forward, I hope the community of Harvey can be an example that can be put forward to inspire other communities within the health authority compete to be "Horizon's Most Active Community."

Stopping for a selfie during the Relay Around Harvey in the summer of 2019, from left, Shawn Little, Dr. Fletcher, Melissa Little, and Alicia Little.

Health providers in all areas of care can serve as champions, seeking to motivate others to partake - from family doctors challenging those in their offices (or virtually), to speech language pathologists in tertiary care. 

We as health care professionals are such a powerful group to provide positive physical activity messages to our patients.

My challenge to all my fellow physicians and health professionals - bring your teams together and show that health care isn't only focused on dealing with health issues once they arise, it's about prevention by promoting physical and mental wellness! I know we can do this.

Watch out, 2021!

Dr. Dan Fletcher began his family practice in his hometown of Harvey Station in September 2012. He completed his Bachelor of Science, with honours, in biology and chemistry at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He then completed his medical school training at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., and his residency in family medicine in Fredericton.

Along with a busy practice that includes teaching residents and medical students, Dr. Fletcher is involved in many volunteer leadership roles in his community promoting community cohesiveness, wellness and physical activity.

As well, earlier in 2020, Dr. Fletcher was one of 15 Community Health Recognition Award recipients for his passion for wellness and bringing people together. In addition to an award and certificate to display, Dr. Fletcher received $500, which he donated to Harvey Helps.

Disclaimer: the ParticipAction challenge took place in 2019, prior to COVID-19 and the public health directives related to physical distancing and mask-wearing

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