Northern Health hands out grants to five local programs

Five local community groups will be receiving funding from Northern Health to improve health and fitness programs in Smithers and Telkwa.

Five local community groups will be receiving funding from Northern Health to improve health and fitness programs in Smithers and Telkwa.

The Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club, the Bulkley Valley Learning Centre, the Kyah Wiget Education Society, Smithers Secondary School and the Treehouse Housing Association have been selected to receive grants as part of this year’s Imagine: Legacy grants program with Northern Health.

“The Legacy Grants reflect a commitment to supporting the long-term health of British Columbians and will help communities build on the spirit of the games as they work to achieve the goal of healthy populations,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a press release.

In total, just over $99,000 in grants will be handed out to regional community-based projects across northwest B.C.

The ski club’s grant will go toward their biathlon program and replacing mats.

Peter Tweedie, the biathlon’s program coach, said a parent with the club applied for the grant over the summer.

They received a $2,500-grant which covered just over half the cost to purchase 16 new biathlon mats.

“When you go to shoot, you lay down on a mat that’s on the firing line,” said Tweedie. “We were using carpet for years so these mats are proper biathlon mats.”

The club would normally hang the carpets inside the cabin to allow them to dry after practice. But over the last few years, they were not drying properly between practices because of the wet weather, leading to health concerns.

“It was getting problematic and we were also concerned about mould,” he said, adding that the new mats are lighter, easier to handle and can be stored outside, freeing up cabin space.

The other half of the $4,400-project came from club fundraising efforts.

“It’s nice when an athlete can get used to training on a specific surface and when they go to an actual race, they’re on the same surface,” said Tweedie. “They’re more familiar with everything.”

With the Canada Winter Games in February, Northern Health hopes the event will encourage communities in the North to improve the health and well-being of its residents.

“We want groups in northern communities to think about how they can leverage the Games, and all that they bring, to create sustainable projects around physical activity that will help make their community healthier,” said Kelsey Yarmish, regional manager, Population Health.

Hazelton, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Houston and Dease Lake also received grants.