Minister Ambrose and partners reveal top six finalists for The Play Exchange, Canada's Active Living Challenge

Finalists to receive mentorship, business case planning and national exposure in an upcoming television special.

OTTAWA, Sept. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Over the past few months, hundreds of Canadians from coast to coast to coast have embraced The Play Exchange, submitting fun and innovative ideas to encourage Canadians to live healthier and more active lifestyles. Today, Minister Ambrose and the Play Exchange partners announced the top six finalists in the running for up to $1 million to launch their project.

The finalists are:

  • Healthy Schools Putting Students First
  • Prescription to Get Active
  • Walk to Tuk Challenge
  • Sharing Dance
  • Trottibus Walking School Bus
  • GOODcoins

The top six finalists will each receive mentoring and support from LIFT Philanthropy Partners to develop a strategic business plan for their idea. These ideas will be showcased on a national television show in January 2015. Canadians will then have the chance to choose the winner by voting online for what they think is the best idea.  

Finalists were chosen by a panel of Canadian judges: Jennifer Heil, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Freestyle Skiing, Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District, Scott Haldane, President and CEO, YMCA Canada, Claudine Labelle, Founder of FitSpirit and Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO, Westjet.

The Play Exchange is a national online challenge that was launched in February 2014 to find and support creative ideas to get Canadians living healthier lifestyles. All Canadians were encouraged to submit their ideas for a healthier Canada, including schools, students, families, as well as not-for-profit organizations, social enterprises and businesses.

The Play Exchange is a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Tire, LIFT Philanthropy Partners, and with support from CBC.

Quick Facts

  • The goal of the Play Exchange is to work across all sectors, partners can leverage knowledge, expertise, reach and resources, allowing each to do what it does best, while working towards a common goal of engaging Canadians to live healthier more active lifestyles.
  • Only four percent of Canadian children are getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity.
  • Approximately two out of every three adults in Canada are overweight or obese and almost one in three children and youth is already overweight or obese.
  • Over 400 Canadians submitted ideas for The Play Exchange.
  • For more information on the finalists and updates, visit The Play Exchange website.

"The ideas we received from across the country for how we can become a healthier, more active Canada were truly innovative and inspiring. The Play Exchange has reached Canadians across every region, tapping into their ingenuity, supporting projects they designed and want delivered. Children, schools and community groups have joined together with their government in an unprecedented way.  Thank you to everyone who submitted ideas."  
-The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

"As a company that's passionate about living an active lifestyle, it's been very encouraging to see Canadians rallying behind The Play Exchange initiative.  We've been inspired by so many of the ideas that have been submitted and are very much looking forward to the mentoring phase where we get to help the finalists bring their plans to life."
-Allan MacDonald
Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Tire

"We're delighted by the overwhelming response that The Play Exchange has received from Canadians.  The six finalists have all demonstrated a strong commitment in helping Canadians lead healthier, more active lives, and we look forward to the opportunity to lead them through the business planning process."
-Bruce Dewar
President and CEO, LIFT Philanthropy Partners

Related Products

Fact Sheet: Play Exchange Finalists

Associated Links

Information on the top six finalists' ideas

FACT SHEET - September 2014

Top Six Play Exchange Finalists

The Play Exchange is a national challenge that was launched in February 2014 to find and support creative ideas to get Canadians living healthier lifestyles.

All Canadians were encouraged to submit their ideas for a healthier Canada, and hundreds of applications were received.

Today's announcement revealed the top six finalists whose ideas will be showcased  on a national television show in January 2015 and who will be eligible for up to $1 million to launch their idea.

Check out the top six ideas below:

Trottibus Walking School Bus

Organization: Canadian Cancer Society of Quebec

Trottibus is a pedestrian bus service that gives elementary school children the chance to walk to school every weekday morning safely, while having fun at the same time.

Through planned walking routes and stops every weekday morning, two adult volunteers accompany a group of kindergarten to third grade children to school. The CCS provides training and the necessary tools to individuals leading and implementing the project and also helps with volunteer recruitment as required. 

Sharing Dance

Organization: Canada's National Ballet School

Sharing Dance is an online platform developed by Canada's National Ballet School that will provide fun, inspirational, and culturally diverse dance content and unparalleled resources for the community, as well as for teachers to aid in teaching dance to students of all ages.

Sharing Dance is also designed to empower mentors who work with youth in high-risk and priority neighborhoods to effectively deliver uplifting and culturally diverse dance programs to under-served communities. Sharing Dance will also reward those youth who, as chosen by their peers and teachers, display exceptional leadership and collaborative spirit through dance.

Healthy Schools Putting Students First

Organization: Ophea (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association) 

This program teaches schools how to use a simple process to create healthier student communities, based on the school's own unique needs and context. The healthy schools approach empowers schools to follow a simple, step-by-step process to change their school for the better. These steps include:

Identifying a priority health topic (physical activity, healthy eating, substance use, etc.);

  • Forming a student-led action team;
  • Developing a plan of action;
  • Implementing and evaluating the plan; and
  • Celebrating accomplishments and planning for the future.

Prescription to Get Active

Organization: Prescription to Get Active 

Prescription to Get Active (RxTGA) tackles chronic disease by enabling physicians to write prescriptions for physical activity for patients living sedentary lifestyles. 

Family doctors and other health care providers who are part of various Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in the Edmonton Zone and Central Zone in Alberta, identify patients who could benefit from more exercise. Once identified, a special prescription (Prescription to Get Active) form is filled out, providing the patient with details and recommendations on how they can get more active, including the amount of activity required to help improve the patient's health and prevent disease. The patient can choose the type of activity that suits them.  Approximately 27 local recreational and wellness facilities who have joined with the PCNs, recognize and will help support individuals with these unique prescriptions.

Walk to Tuk Challenge

Organization: NWT Recreation and Parks Association

The Walk to Tuk encourages people to form teams and together 'walk the distance' of the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence, NWT to Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Teams collectively attempt to walk a total of 1658km, between January and March.

Walk to Tuk is the only territorial-wide physical activity challenge and it engages the highest number of participants for the longest period of time. It is free to participate, open to anyone of any age, can be done within the participants' community and the tracking is mostly done online with the ability to see the location of each team along the river.  

The NWT Recreation and Parks Association (NWTRPA) works with communities across the NWT to promote healthy living through active recreation.


Organization: Zerofootprint

GOODcoins is a web and mobile platform that empowers Canadians with innovative tools to effectively track their daily activities and promote healthy choices with daily reminders, encouraging messaging, and rewards with GOODcoins, a social currency. Activities can include anything from walking or biking 30 minutes every day, reducing home energy and water usage, sharing a healthy tip or signing up for a campaign that challenges the user to make a positive change for them but also  the world.

Participants earn GOODcoins for each measureable activity completed, and can redeem them for GOOD products and services.

For more information on the top six Play Exchange Finalists visit the Play Exchange website.


SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information: Michael Bolkenius, Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, (613) 957-0200; Media Relations, Public Health Agency of Canada, (613) 957-2983


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