“ParticipAction” was the name of the Canadian government program designed to encourage Canadians to get and stay physically fit. Created in 1971 by the federal government, ParticipAction was successful in encouraging Canadians to be active and to stay healthy.
ParticipAction was created by the Canadian Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau believed that sport and recreation should play an important role in the lives of Canadian citizens. His government took two steps towards the accomplishment of this goal. First, a government agency was created to provide funds for high performance athletes, such as those training and competing in the Olympic Games. A second agency was created to encourage participation and physical activity in the general Canadian population. It was out of this second agency that ParticipAction was born.
ParticipAction became famous in the 1970s because of a series of television commercials. In these commercials, a young Canadian in his 20’s was seen being out-run by a 60-year old Swedish man. The message was that Canadians had become lazy and inactive. This was probably true of Canadians at the time. Physical fitness was not highly encouraged in schools, especially for women. Also, the government played little role in encouraging physical activity before ParticipAction.
The result of ParticipAction was impressive. Canadians became more active in the years following the program’s inception. Also, fitness and activity were encouraged through physical education programs. ParticipAction was seen as a positive program because it got Canadians active while reducing health care costs caused by inactivity and poor physical conditioning.
Recently, ParticipAction was terminated by the federal government because of a lack of funding. Many people thought this was a shame given the positive messages the program gave to otherwise inactive Canadians. Despite the program’s termination, ParticipAction has made a long-lasting impression on Canadians. Hopefully, its positive example of physical fitness for Canadians will continue in the future.