Adrienne Marsh is pumped.
The interview takes off like a sprinter from the starting block. In a voice charged with enthusiasm, Marsh explains SOGO Active, a program presented by Coca-Cola Canada in collaboration with ParticipACTION, for youth aged 13 to 19.
“It’s to get the spirit of the Olympics going [the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics] and to get Canadians excited about it,” she says.
As active living co-ordinator for RPAY, Marsh was passed a baton and intends to run with it: her mandate is to empower Yukoners to live active lifestyles. And that means getting the word out about SOGO Active.
“Being active isn’t just sports; it’s whatever you make it.
“It’s designed to fit the needs and lifestyles of youth.
“It could be hacky sack,” she laughs, “or it could be traditional sports.
“It’s very open to creativity.
“If a youth has a ‘crazy’ idea … that’s great. You don’t have to be sports-minded to do it.
“Right now there’s an epidemic going on … children are not getting as much exercise as they need,” she explains.
The approach, Marsh says in a for the people, by the people tone, is “for youth, by youth.
“Youth have control; they have leadership …
“And it’s an opportunity for youth to showcase [themselves]. They’re who’s going to lead our world in the future!”
There are benefits, of course: “The benefit of being more physically active is huge,” Marsh says, adding that there are social benefits, as well.
“Youth are socializing with other youth and there’s partnership opportunities [with community hosts such as Peak Fitness].
“It’s powerful for us to demonstrate to the rest of Canada, and Canada to the rest of the world, that we can be the most active people on Earth.
(Adrienne Marsh is definitely pumped.)
There is another fantastic incentive: each participant will be given the opportunity to be chosen as one of 1,000 torchbearers for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.
Eight spots have been allocated for Yukoners.
So how do youth and community hosts get involved?
Marsh leans over and begins tapping her keyboard: “They can go to the website [www.sogoactive.com] and design their own Get-Active Plan.”
There are even avatars.
“It’s like a Facebook sort of deal.”
Marsh’s hands move enthusiastically with her voice as she explains how a youth would network with other teens in Whitehorse, in the Yukon and across Canada. This is how it works: “They tell ‘Jim’, and ‘Jim’ comes …
“It’s about connecting and getting active.”
Several community hosts, including the Faro Recreation Centre, have already signed up. And youth can join up with hosts that have signed up or ask another community organization to become a host.
Marsh wants to see youth taking a proactive approach – taking the lead.
“If youth groups [hosts] need some funding for resources or equipment to rent a space, they can fill out an application form.”
Marsh wants to see the program gather excitement and gain momentum for the upcoming Games and then continue on to its legacy phase, which is being developed and will follow the Coca-Cola torchbearer phase.
Marsh says SOGO Active is “just a cool way of having a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s the ‘sickest’ way to live healthy.”
Youth can explore ways to get active and network and find out what’s happening in Yukon communities by visiting www.sogoactive.com or contacting RPAY at 668-2328.