Sally Sullivan and Dawn Potvin are co-chairs of the Action Changes Things (ACT) Committee in Houston

Sally Sullivan and Dawn Potvin are co-chairs of the Action Changes Things (ACT) Committee in Houston

Taking action to promote a healthy active lifestyle

Coordinating events and promoting active lifestyle is what the Houston ACT Committee is all about.

Coordinating events and promoting active lifestyle is what the Houston ACT Committee is all about.

Formed last November, Action Changes Things (ACT) has already made a mark on the community through ‘This is Our Town – Houston,’ a subcommittee focused on beautifying the town.

Committee Co-chair and Houston Council Representative Dawn Potvin says they have just got started.

The committee is currently readying a website to go live mid-November, which will promote and coordinate all local events and clubs and help people find ways to get involved.

ACT’s big focus this winter is coordinating a community-wide WinterFest on the Family Day long weekend, where they hope to engage every demographic and include events from every club and community group they can.

ACT was an initiative through Northern Health, funded through a $20,000 Healthier Communities Grant.

The goal is upstream, preventative health action, said Potvin.

“We want to reach the people who are borderline diabetic, or who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, because if they live a healthier lifestyle, then they can prevent chronic illness,” she said.

“Basically it’s meeting people where they’re at, meeting their needs before they get chronic disease,” said Sally Sullivan, Committee Co-chair and Northern Health representative.

Sullivan says she is excited to get involved in preventative health because, as the Houston Health Centre Co-ordinator, she often sees the chronic disease side of things.

“Living in this town, I’m committed to this town. I’m already a big part of the health care in this town, so I think this just gives me a way to work on the upstream side of things, instead of the treatment side of health,” she said.

Sullivan says that being so involved in Houston health care already, she comes with a local perspective.

“I know the most common chronic diseases for Houston, so I’d like to focus on activities that prevent those types of things,” she said.

Potvin agrees.

“We’ll be addressing the common risk factors for Houston, not for the northwest, not for Vancouver, but for Houston… those are the ones we’re going to focus on,” said Potvin.

Sullivan says asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are some common health issues in Houston.

Potvin says ACT is a sustainable, multi-project group, focusing on promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.

The main focus is to draw inactive people into activities they enjoy – not just exercise – as well as engage the already active people, Potvin said.

The beautification committee, ‘This is Our Town – Houston,’ was the first project.

Executive member Shane Brienen says they had lots of plans, but just wanted to get their name out and have something that people could do.

He says the idea was sparked by negative comments they heard about the appearance of the town.

“We had a discussion and we felt Houston was still a beautiful town and thought that if we weren’t happy about it, then maybe we can do something about it,” he said.

This past summer they coordinated clean-up projects, done by community volunteers, including garbage pick-up, riverbank clean-up, and the clean up six vacant lots around town.

The work earned them the Community Spirit Award from the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

“I thought it was great,” said Brienen.

“We had a bit of a late start as a group, but we had great community buy-in… we were surprised and happy,” he said.

“The amazing thing was how much we did some nights in such a short time because so many people were there.

“People just jumped out [of their vehicles saying ‘What can I do?’ And they went to work,” Brienen said.

Brienen says next summer they plan do projects three times a month and get started at the end of May or early-June.

He says they’re planning other initiatives as well, like Communities in Bloom and a mural program to paint things like garbage cans and fire hydrants.

“We want people to come out when they have a bit of time and do something that interests them.

“If you don’t want to clean up a lot, hopefully you can paint or do flowers,” he said.

Potvin says the goal of the ACT committee is complete community engagement.

“It’s a very, very positive initiative that I am happy to be a part of and participate in,” Potvin said.

“The involvement has been unbelievable, people wanting to get involved in the co-ordination of everts or participate in the events – that’s how we want to engage everybody,” she said.

“I’m excited about what is to come,” she said.