THIS September, community members are invited to team up and lead more active lives in support of B.C. children and adults living with cerebral palsy.
Launched in Australia in 2010, the World Cerebral Palsy Challenge is making its Canadian debut this year and a number of North Shore residents have already signed on to take part.
Participants commit to leading an active life for four weeks, joining forces with coworkers, school classes, family members and friends to form teams of four. Each team member receives a pedometer, which they'll use to track their daily steps, keeping a record of them on the challenge's website as they "climb virtual mountains."
Open to people of all levels of ability, other activities like cycling and using a wheelchair are also eligible, and the challenge's online software converts them to
steps, seeing people continue to creep higher and higher until reaching their personal "summit" at the month's end.
"We're promoting healthy living and we are asking people to take part in it to improve their fitness, while we are improving the lives of people with cerebral palsy," says Feri Dehdar, director of programs for the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia. "This is really good for co-workers or for anyone who's interested in getting fit - and it's a worthwhile cause."
Challenge participants are also encouraged to fundraise in support of the association, which works to raise awareness of cerebral palsy, as well as offer support to those affected.
Dehdar says the challenge is a good means of raising awareness of the efforts of the association and a condition that affects approximately 12,000 B.C. residents, along with their family members.
"We want people to take part in this initiative for public education because this is a disorder that is poorly understood in the community," says Dehdar.
Cerebral palsy is a life-long physical disability affecting movement, caused by an injury to the developing brain, usually before birth. Severity ranges from patient to patient and currently, no cure exists.
North Vancouver resident Judy Briton has formed a team with her mother, Josie, sister Lisa and brother-in-law Steve. She and Josie, who lives in West Vancouver, plan to do much of their daily activities together, giving them an opportunity to spend more time with one another.
While her sister and brother-in-law live in Los Angeles, Calif., Judy likes the opportunity the challenge provides to do something together, despite the geographical distance between them.
"I've participated in a number of CP fundraisers over the years but what I liked about this one was that it was different. . . .," says Judy, who has cerebral palsy. "The main thing I liked about it was that it wasn't a one-day event, it's a whole month."
Judy also likes its focus on living a healthier, more active life.
"They're getting people to be active," she says. "I want to try and at least walk a half an hour a day anyway. For health reasons, it's a good thing to do. I thought, great, a whole month to do this, gets you doing a nice habit and so you get to continue to practise it."
Whole Foods Market at the Village at Park Royal has also decided to put together some teams, pitting different departments
against one another in a friendly competition to see which is more active as a whole.
Grant Daisley, the West Vancouver grocer's marketing and community relations lead, said the event seemed like a perfect fit for them and were happy to get involved.
"For us, just being in the community and working with our community and supporting our community and our neighbours is just an important part of everything we do," he says.
To encourage fundraising, the association is offering incentive prizes, including tickets to Vancouver Canadians and B.C. Lions games to teams that raise the most.
The World Cerebral Palsy Challenge runs from Sept. 4, which is World Cerebral Palsy Day, to Oct. 2. Registration is open until Aug. 30 at a cost of $25 per adult and $10 per child. For more information or to register, visit www. worldcpchallenge.org.
For more information on the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia, visit www. bccerebralpalsy.com.