Walking to Improve Youth Health and Wellness

Walking to Improve Youth Health and Wellness
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Elise Morton

Elise Morton

Elise Morton is a graduating journalism print student at Sheridan College. She has a passion for photography, travelling, music and enjoys telling and finding an interesting or new way to tell stories.

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Youth Mood Walks, a provincial program led by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) provides youth with an opportunity to improve their health while exploring nature.

“There are a number of goals, but one of the big one’s is helping people become more physically active, which is an important factor in overall health and in mental health,” said Melanie McGregor, specialist communications and advancement at the CMHA Halton Region Branch. “As well, it’s a chance to connect with other people, socialize, learn about fitness, walking techniques, get to know trails and places to walk in the Halton area.”

According to Linda Horsky, case manager of the Community Support Program at the CMHA Halton Region Branch, Mood Walks is in its third year, but this is the first time it has been offered to youth in transition.

“This is a provincial program. The first year they ran it for older adults and last year we ran a group for adults,” said Horsky. “They did some outcome measures, which looked at what we did and the energy, happiness and anxiety levels of participants pre and post walks to determine the impact that nature has on well being. All markers showed improvement post walk and they just want to keep on rolling it out to the different age groups to try and make it accessible and to spread the word about this program.”

The free walks will typically be an hour long and occur at specific locations all across the Halton region during the 10-week program, which will run until July 12th.


A Trillium spotted on the Sixteen Mile Creek hiking trail in Oakville.

“The walks are scheduled for two hours to allow time for warm up stretching, breaks and socializing as
well, because we want it to be enjoyable and leisurely,” said McGregor.

The first Youth Mood Walk occurred at the Sixteen Mile Creek in Oakville on Tuesday, May 3rd.

“After the ten weeks we hope that people have gained some new skills, a new interest in walking for health and they will have walking as a coping strategy,” said McGregor. “At CMHA we can also connect them with other resources and options that might help them with their wellness and encourage them to get support in other areas of their life.”

For more information about the Mood Walks program you can visit the website at http://www.moodwalks.ca or contact Louisa Orlando at (289) 291-5436 and lorlando@cmhahrb.ca.


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