NEWMARKET – The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (CMHA Ontario) has received $150,000 in provincial funding to develop and implement a new educational walking and hiking program for older adults living with mental illness. Many of these walks will be taking place in Conservation Areas across Ontario. Funding for the project was provided through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund, which supports a vision of getting and keeping Ontarians active and living healthier lives. The Mood Walks project will promote both physical and mental health by reducing barriers and creating new opportunities for older adults to be physically active. In partnership with Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario, CMHA Ontario will provide training and support for 30 community mental health agencies across the province to launch new walking programs, connect with local hiking clubs, and improve access to parks, hiking trails, Conservation Areas, and other resources in the communities.
“Spending time outdoors is good for positive mental health,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario. “Research shows that it boosts our energy, helps to increase fitness levels, improves Vitamin D production and helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
Mood Walks is linked to Conservation Ontario’s already successful Healthy Hikes campaign, which is currently underway across Ontario. Healthy Hikes (www.healthyhikes.ca) launched on May 1 and offers unique hiking opportunities and events for all participants right until October 31.
“The Canadian Mental Health Association has already been a very active partner in our Healthy Hikes campaign and we are very pleased to continue our relationship with them through this innovative Mood Walks project,” said Kim Gavine, General Manager of Conservation Ontario.
The Healthy Hikes campaign highlights the many ways our environment boosts human health and how Ontarians can energize their body and mind simply by spending more time in nature. Ontarians are encouraged to take the Healthy Hikes challenge by registering online and then recording their time spent hiking in the more than 270 Conservation Areas owned and operated by Conservation Authorities across Ontario for a chance to win great prizes.
Conservation Authorities collectively own over 2500 km of trails, and the Conservation Areas that they operate help protect ecologic features such as wetlands, forests, rivers and streams, and great lakes shoreline, all of which contribute in invaluable ways to our overall health and well-being. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink are all impacted by the health of the natural environment.
For more information on Healthy Hikes, the available prizes, challenge rules and regulations, events, and how to participate, visit www.healthyhikes.ca. You can read more about the Mood Walks funding announcement at the Government of Ontario website.
About CMHA Ontario
Founded in 1952, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to making mental health possible for all. CMHA Ontario works closely with its 31 local branches in communities across the province to ensure the quality delivery of services to consumers and families of individuals with mental illness, dual diagnosis and concurrent disorders. CMHA Ontario contributes knowledge, resources and skills to provincial policy development and implementation. We promote mental health in collaboration with others. We further equitable access to mental health services and champion the reduction of mental health disparities.
About Conservation Ontario
Conservation Ontario is the network of 36 Conservation Authorities, local watershed management agencies that deliver services and programs that protect and manage water and other natural resources in partnership with government, landowners and other organizations. Conservation Authorities promote an integrated watershed approach balancing human, environmental and economic needs. Conservation Authorities are organized on a watershed basis.