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ParticipACTION Wants You to Hop All the Way to Your Plane

To launch its 150 Play List – a campaign to get Canadians active – the fitness non-profit has installed a 430-foot hopscotch at Billy Bishop Airport

When the pedestrian tunnel was opened at Billy Bishop Airport it was lauded as a fast and efficient way to get to your plane on time. No longer did passengers need to wait for the ferry; instead they could walk right through from downtown to the airport.

But why walk when you can hop? That’s the question ParticipACTION is posing to passengers with a 430-foot (130-metre) hopscotch that runs the length of the tunnel.

The hopscotch marks the launch of ParticipACTION’s 150 Play List, a list of ultimate Canadian activities that coincides with the country’s sesquicentennial, taking place next year. Having been chosen by the 150 Federal Secretariat as one of about 40 signature initiatives to mark the 150th anniversary, ParticipACTION chose to celebrate by encouraging physical activity.

“We’re creating the ultimate list of all the physical activities that make us Canadian,” says Elio Antunes, president and CEO, ParticipACTION. “Throughout 2017 every Canadian, in all communities, schools and workplaces from coast to coast to coast, will be challenged to complete as many physical activities on the list as possible, track their efforts online and earn rewards along the way.”

Those activities range from the expected, like hockey, soccer or swimming, to the unexpected, like insect collecting, trail maintenance, quidditch and Pokemon Go. And there are childhood games like kick the can, kite flying and, of course, hopscotch. The goal, besides getting people moving, is to get Canadians to try an activity they might have never experienced.

Canadian figure skaters Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch – two-time Canadian national medallists in pair skating and Skate Canada National Team members who were on hand at the launch event – say that even for athletes like themselves trying something new can be a challenge.

“Being active and healthy is our day job,” Moscovitch says. “We found a passion very young. Skating is a sport you have to have to start young and it’s a lifelong commitment, and so being very active and frequently active is something we’ve done our whole lives.”

“Growing up my mom always kicked us outside … I think that’s something society is leaning away from

While he says he’s tried many activities in his life, the Play List hopscotch reminded him of some favourites. “It reminded me of things I’d like to do again, like axe throwing and maybe lawn sports.” His partner, however, was inspired to try something more daring. “I’ve never tried skydiving. I don’t know when but maybe one day I’ll try it,” Ilyushechkina says.

For Mark Oldershaw, Canadian sprint canoeist and Olympic bronze medallist, scuba diving is the top of his must-try list. “I love the water but to be able to under it and explore it is something I’ve always wanted to do.” In reality, however, he says that when he’s not training or competing he’s most active when chasing his one-year-old daughter.

An active childhood, says Oldershaw, is something he’s looking to recreate for his own child. “Growing up my mom always kicked us outside. Whenever we were bugging her or not doing something she said, ‘Go outside and play,’ ” he says. “I think that’s something society is leaning away from and I think that’s something we need to encourage and actively encourage it because it leads to a healthier society and a happier one.”

This sentiment speaks to why ParticipACTION chose to install its crazy-long hopscotch in the tunnel. “The Billy Bishop Airport offers every traveller a choice – to take the moving sidewalks, or walk. It’s really an example of one of the small each Canadian makes, every day, about whether to take the stairs or the escalator, walk or drive – whether or not to make the active choice,” says Antunes. “It was the perfect place to showcase a fun, creative way that Canadians can make an active choice in their busy day, by offering them the unexpected chance to hopscotch their way to or from the airport.”

Hopscotch is just one of hundreds of activities that could make the 150 Play List, as is climbing the stairs, which Play List partner Manulife is also encouraging in the tunnel. From now until the end of the year Canadians can vote for their favourite activities, or submit any other activity they think is truly Canadian (yes, shovelling snow is already on there). The final list will be revealed in January 2017 and ParticipACTION will make 100 event stops across Canada throughout the year. The hopscotch itself will be at Billy Bishop Airport until Nov. 5.

So just how hard is it to hop all 430 feet through the tunnel? “Honestly, it was difficult,” says Oldershaw. “I haven’t done hopscotch for a long time and we weren’t wearing athletic gear either so we definitely got sweaty. I’ve walked through this tunnel many times on flights to competitions so I know how long it is but to do it as a hopscotch is definitely a challenge.”

Published Tuesday, October 18th 2016

Header image credit: Courtesy ParticipACTION

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