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Active-living strategy unveiled

Plan for Chester municipality and Mahone Bay
by Adam Jacobs

 CHESTER - Almost exactly one year after it began, the active-living strategy for Chester and Mahone Bay is complete.

 The 50-page document was presented to Chester Municipal Council on September 29 by active-living co-ordinator Stefan Sopher.

 The document was paraphrased by Mr. Sopher, whose one-year contract expired on October 3, with a key statement - "Be active, it's life."

 "I actually borrowed that from a Grade 10 student," Mr. Sopher said. "It really stuck in my mind."

 The document was put together using a series of community, public and school consultations, a survey and much research by Mr. Sopher and the municipal recreation department.

 Rather than present the entire 50-page document to council, Mr. Sopher instead touched on some of the highlights.

 One of the keys to active living, particularly for adults, is participating in unstructured activities.

 "We want to encourage things that are very natural," Mr. Sopher said. "Go out for a walk, go skate on the pond."

 To this point the strategy recommends more municipal promotion of existing options such as the new outdoor skating rink at Lordly Park or the municipal walking trail.

 "We're not saying we have to go out and build all this new infrastructure," Mr. Sopher told council.

 The strategy also pushes the idea of identifying community leaders in physical activity and using them to help encourage others.

 For youth the idea is to help reduce screen time by increasing physical activity.

 The survey of 300 conducted for this strategy showed school-aged children average four to six hours of screen time per day outside of school.

 "Screen time is here to stay," said municipal recreation director Trudy Payne. "It's not a competition. We just need to reduce that screen time."

 Another key aspect is to encourage methods of active transportation such as walking and biking.

 The benefits of being physically active are obvious - becoming a healthier, happier person at the end of the day.

 "Whether you're six or 62 you can still play," Ms Payne said. "I think some people forget that."



posted on 10/07/08
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