By Nora Johnston, Director, Centre for Active Living, University of Alberta
As a knowledge translation organization, the Centre for Active Living (CAL) has supported physical activity professionals with information, resources, and educational opportunities for just over 31 years. Due to a lack of government funding, it is with heavy hearts that we are writing this final WellSpring.
In 1989, Drs. Art Quinney and Gerry Glassford from the University of Alberta, and Alfred Nikolai and Dr. Steve West from the Government of Alberta worked together to create the Alberta Centre for Well-Being, a community-focused organization committed to enhancing the health and well-being of Albertans. The Centre provided leadership and educational opportunities for well-being professionals, and most importantly, bridged the gap between research and practice through coordinated, collaborative efforts.
In 2001, the Alberta Centre for Well-Being (ACFWB) transitioned to become the Alberta Centre for Active Living (ACAL), strategically focusing its research and education efforts around physical activity, and subsequently, sedentary behaviour.
We are unique in Canada, as no other province has such an organization with a vast community reach to translate physical activity knowledge. The eventual transition to the Centre for Active Living (removing Alberta) reflected the broad audience who used CAL‘s information and resources across provinces, nationally and internationally.
CAL was fortunate to have outstanding Executive Management Groups, Advisory Groups, and committee members, researcher associates, staff, and practicum students. These people have gone on to be highly regarded researchers (including a Provost and a Dean), consultants, entrepreneurs, physical activity professionals, and even an orthopedic surgeon. Some have stayed in Alberta, while others have move around the world. The people involved have made CAL a reliable source of physical activity information and resources for professionals.
One of the long-standing tools to support professionals was the publication, WellSpring , which started in the early 1990’s. WellSpring presented evidence-based information to professionals in a format that was easy to read and accessible for anyone who wanted to receive it. Authors from across the globe shared their research and practice projects through this publication, keeping CAL subscribers up to date on the latest science and programming.
Before the cell phone takeover, CAL had a toll-free 1-800 number which enabled people from all corners of Alberta to easily access resources. Through the years, a speaker’s registry and a lending library were also available to support the professionals across the province as they worked with their students, clients, employees, and patients.
Starting in 1993, CAL undertook the Alberta Survey on Physical Activity to report on “how active are Albertans?” Every second year, the survey was repeated to keep a pulse on Alberta’s physical activity levels. In later years, to inform professionals on current trends, questions were added on walking activity, sedentary behaviour, physical activity trackers, and sleep.
Each spring, CAL’s Physical Activity Forum hosted an outstanding researcher who would highlight the latest findings on a different physical activity topic. Held in Edmonton and Calgary, the Forum was an event that brought health and physical activity professionals together to network, learn and share their experiences.
Over the years, CAL initiated, developed, or hosted a variety of projects and tools that were used by professionals to increase physical activity among Albertans. There are too many to list completely, but some of these were:
- Canada 125
- Wellness Wagon
- Health in Action
- Home Support Exercise Program
- Physical Activity @ Work, a portal website
- Videos such as Stretching @ Your Desk and Yoga @ Your Desk
- Rural Route to Active Aging, a portal website
- Healthy U
- Physical Activity Counselling Toolkit, in 6 languages
- Increasing Physical Activity and Decreasing Sedentary Behaviour in the Workplace, a systematic review
- Benefits of Active Transportation, a fact sheet
- Physical Activity for Decision-makers, infographic in 4 languages
- Alberta Workplace Audit Toolkit
These resources have always been free to those who had Internet access. While the WellSpring publication, Active Living E-News, and Media Updates will stop for now, CAL resources will continue to be available on the Centre for Active Living website.
It’s been a marvelous journey for the Centre for Active Living. We bid farewell to our faithful subscribers of WellSpring, Media Summaries and Active Living E-News, at least for now. In the meantime, we encourage you, now more than ever, to STAY ACTIVE and stay safe!
October 2020, Volume 31, No. 10