Active Every Day

Dawson City has earned a place as the Yukon finalist for CBC’s “Live Right Now” competition, putting the town in the running to win a $100,000 “natural playground” courtesy of The Canadian Wildlife Federation, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds and Parks Canada.

Live Right Now is a CBC initiative launched in 2011 aimed at increasing the health of Canadians. Competing communities began earning points this January by creating events, groups and participating in challenges, before the finalists were announced in March.

A quick walk through Dawson and it’s easy to see why this active community made the finals. The river is a winter playground for skijoring, walking, cross country skiing, sledding and dog mushing.

In summer it’s a canoeist’s paradise.

In winter, there is downhill skiing at Moose Mountain, and snowboard tracks visible high on the Dome—a one and a half hour steep climb and 10 minutes of boarding.

Walking is a part of life as you don’t need a car to get around town. Soccer, hockey, curling, ping pong and skating are daily activities. And, of course, wood chopping and snow shovelling are common place.

Indeed, it’s hard not to be impressed by the variety of activities on offered for a town of 1,800.

“Just Another Day in Dawson” was an event held on March 29 to prove that Dawson is the most active community in Canada and to secure that playground.

All 13 finalist communities, ranging from Kamloops, BC, to Iqaluit, Nunavut, were asked to host an event. Dawson took an alternative approach to highlight that an active lifestyle is all just another day for this town.

“Dawson is an active community, but there are also activities that are ingrained in daily life that are uniquely Dawson,” says Lana Welchman, recreation manager, “Where else can you see people travelling to the grocery store by dog team or skijoring to work?”

Just Another Day in Dawson kicked off with a healthy and delicious lunch of salad, fresh sandwiches and fruit in the Art and Margaret Fry Recreation Centre’s packed out lobby.

Speakers included Dawson’s mayor Peter Jenkins and representatives from Parks Canada, the Tr’ondek Hwech’in community, the community gardens, women’s hockey, figure skating, soccer and Dawson’s snowmobile club.

The contributions volunteers make in promoting an active lifestyle was highlighted at the event.

“We rely on members of our community to instruct, coach and supervise,” says Welchman.

Residents logged their activities over the next 24 hours and the results from these were submitted to the competition as evidence of Dawson’s merit.

Active living stories were broadcasted throughout the day on local radio.

Further, stories and photos were collected and can be viewed on a Facebook page set up for the event.

Dawson’s extreme climate hardly dampens outdoor enthusiasm. In fact, it seems to enhance it. The area’s long deep freeze offers winter enthusiasts a chance to revel in months of guaranteed ice and snow.

The long summer daylight hours make outdoor activities easy any time of day.

And, if Dawson emerges as winner, life could become more active still.

Just what is a “natural playground”? The Live Right Now website describes the prize as a “custom designed and community built natural playground [that] will reflect the natural heritage of the nearest national park…”

According to the Bienenstock website, their natural playground concept is designed in consultation with an early childhood education specialist and a kinesiologist and uses “natural nature or where this is not possible the use of 100 percent recycled material is proscribed”.

The winning community will be announced on a CBC radio Steven and Chris special on April 13.

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