In The Beginning...
In 1969, a study commissioned by the National Advisory Council
for Fitness and Amateur Sport concluded that Canadians were in terrible
shape, that the future well-being of Canadians was in jeopardy and
that, to all appearances, most Canadians couldn’t care less.
In response, Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien, who was Chair of
the Council, asked then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and
federal government officials to provide seed money for the creation
of an independent fitness promotion agency, involving both public
and private sector funding. Both Mr. Trudeau and then Health Minister
John Monro, were supportive of this request.
For many, the 60 year old Swede ad was
the epitome of ParticipACTION. A 15 second ad that changed
the face of health promotion around the world. See
video in Motivate
This new initiative was also strongly influenced by two individuals.
Mr. Cor Westland, a Health Canada official with responsibility for
physical activity and recreation, worked closely with de Gaspé
Beaubien in its creation. Dr. Jurgen Palm, head of the late 1960’s
created Trimm "Sport for All" program in Germany, provide
valuable insight into possible communication strategies.
ParticipACTION was incorporated in 1971. Mr. de Gaspé Beaubien
agreed to serve as the first president and recruited an influential
Board of Directors including Rt. Hon. Lester B. Pearson as the first
Chair of the Board.
From the beginning, Trudeau/Pearson/Beaubien established three
objectives for ParticipACTION: (a) create a national awareness and
educational campaign regarding the health and social benefits of
an active lifestyle, with practical advice on "getting started";
(b) leverage the public funds invested by generating private sector
support to at least match the public funds; and (c) cooperate with
and support the efforts of community-based health, sport and physical
activity leaders and their programs.
(For the record, during 29 years of existence (1971-2000), (a)
ParticipACTION received $21 million in funding from Health Canada;
(b) generated $40 million (cash) in support from the private sector
and provincial/territorial governments; (c) obtained $65 million
"in-kind" support from local communities; and (d) received
over $280 million in free media exposure from some 2,500 mass media
partners across Canada. All in all, an impressive return on the
public funds invested.)
ParticipACTION’s mission was to be a leading catalyst and
provider of information to positively influence personal behaviour
and social supports which encouraged healthy, active living for
all Canadians. Its vision was to involve all Canadians in improving
the quality of their lives and the quality of the communities in
which they live by contributing to strategies for improving health
and containing health care costs through physical activity and sport