This season, there is much to celebrate in our PHE Canada community. Our first conference in more than 20 years in B.C. took place May 16-18 in beautiful Whistler. The Research Council Forum and general pre-registration numbers were both higher than in previous years, and international registrations were solid, too, which is a sign of recognition of the work being disseminated by both researchers and practitioners across Canada.
An invigorated PHE Canada Research Council with a strategic direction is an essential part of our PHE Canada community. Being deliberate about building links between researchers, government, practitioners and funders is leading to an increase in our ability to engage in purposeful inquiry, knowledge mobilization and advocacy. The indicators of engagement can be seen in the content of the Research Council newsletter, the Forum attendance, and the number of pan-Canadian collaborations fostered through the Research Council.
Another exciting development in Canada is the emergence of the Canadian Alliance for Healthy School Communities (CAHSC). This budding alliance is a consortium of non-profits and government representatives working to unify a national voice, continued development of healthy school community awareness, a research agenda, key messaging and advocacy, and inter-agency system efficiencies. School support for physical and health educators and their expertise grows in harmony with parent, principal and student attention to school movement and health culture. Leaders will next meet in Ottawa, in July.
For many, this season is a time to dust off the bike and get engaged in active transportation. Interestingly, our recent member survey showed that our Guide to Ride program is one of our most popular resources with members. Bridging school, community and family cycling has measurable positive impacts on the environment, physical activity levels and overall quality of life. Cycling at school, to and from school, and in our communities may be the number one environmental and physical activity intervention we could undertake as a nation (between May and October, at least) to have holistic community impact. When cycling is adopted as a community focus (including schools), the positive ripple can impact infrastructure leading to traffic calming, safer roads, safer routes to school, and an overall improvement in quality of life indicators.
Our increasing focus on holistic campaigns that address multiple contexts, curriculum and channels for healthy behaviour change leads us to our last celebration of this spring: a partnership with Cycling Canada to re-invigorate their Hop On Canada campaign in a effort to create a single call to action across Canada: that we all Hop On! For our health, for the joy, for the environment.