Healthy Kids Community Challenge

Waterloo Region is one of 45 communities across Ontario taking part in The Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC). The goals of HKCC are to support the well-being of our children, and to help create communities in which it is easy for children to lead healthier lives.

How Does the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Work?

Why Do We Need the Healthy Kids Community Challenge?

Who Coordinates the Healthy Kids Community Challenge?

Information for Caregivers

Information for Partners


How does The Healthy Kids Community Challenge work?

Every nine months, a new theme is launched by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that relates to two of the key factors linked with healthy weights in children: physical activity and healthy eating. Organizations across Waterloo Region come together to support these themes by developing programs, policies, and physical and social supports for children and families throughout the community.

Theme Three - Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit

The Healthy Kids Community Challenge is now on its third theme, Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit, which will run from summer 2017 until spring 2018. This theme will encourage children and families to include vegetables or fruit in every meal and snack in order to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Our community will support children and families in making healthy food choices through a number of activities, including:

  • Building community gardens and food hedges ("fedges") to engage children, families, and educators in growing fruits and vegetables, and to improve access to local produce
  • Offering opportunities to develop food skills (e.g. grocery store tours) by focusing on choosing and making meals with vegetables and fruits
  • Presenting live theatre performances to educate children on the benefits of eating vegetables or fruit at each meal
  • Researching local food distribution that connects local growers, farmers' markets, and people in need

Interested in learning more about Theme Three?

Details about Theme Three activities, as well as, tools and resources to support healthy eating can be found at HKCC Theme Three - Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit

Previous Themes

The second theme of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge was Water Does Wonders! (2016-2017). This theme encouraged children and families to choose water, instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, to satisfy their thirst. Water is the most natural, healthy, and affordable beverage choice for children and families.

To help children and families easily find drinking water in the community, over 100 new hydration stations were funded for recreation centres, child care centres, elementary schools, neighbourhood associations, and other community sites.

For more information about Theme Two, check out these resources: 

Water Does Wonders Fact Sheet for Parents and Caregivers

Sugar Infographic

Beverages for Children

The first theme of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge was Run. Jump. Play. Every Day. (2015-2016). This theme encouraged physical activity through a mix of active play, sport, active transportation, and structured activities. Any form of regular movement is physical activity. Children should be physically active daily as part of play, games, sports, transportation, recreation, physical education, or planned exercise activities.

To help children and families become more physically active, community partners came together to plan activities like creating trail walking and cycling programs, offering physical activity and self-esteem workshops, and building pop-up playground environments.

For more information about the first theme, check out these resources:

Run. Jump. Play. Every Day. Factsheet

Physical Activity in the Early Years

Physical Activity in Children and Youth

Why do we need the Healthy Kids Community Challenge?

Take a look at some of the data below on physical activilty levels among children in Waterloo Region:

  • About one quarter of senior kindergarten students in Waterloo Region (24 per cent of females and 26 per cent of males) is at risk for being overweight or obese.[i] Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of chronic disease and premature death in adulthood.[ii]
  • Unhealthy weights can negatively influence self-esteem, social inclusion and mental health in children and youth.[iii]
  • Only seven per cent of children and youth in Waterloo Region take part
    in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at least six
    days per week, which is the amount recommended in the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.[iv] Among local youth 12 to 17 years old, 58 per cent frequently used or viewed a screen during their leisure time.[v]
  • Research suggests that high levels of sedentary behaviour increase health risks in children, no matter how active they are at other times.[vi]
  • Over the last decade there has been a 14 per cent drop in the number of Canadian kids who play outside after school.[vi]
  • Some data suggests that just over half of local students (56 to 58 per cent) who live within walking distance of their school, actually walked or cycled to get there. Almost half (42 to 44 per cent) were driven to school.[vii]

For more data on children's health and physical activity levels in Ontario, see The Healthy Kids Community Challenge FACTS

Want to know what parents can do to support children's healthy behaviours at home?

Public Health Ontario has made three posters on physical activity, healthy eating, and screen time based on responses from 3,206 parents living in Ontario. Although these statistics may not be representative of our community, they are fun to read and provide great suggestions for parents!

Parental Support for Child Health

Who coordinates the Healthy Kids Community Challenge?

The Healthy Kids Community Challenge is modelled after a program used in Europe, called Epode (Ensemble Prévenons l'Obésité des Enfants--Together Let's Prevent Childhood Obesity). The strength of Epode comes from partnerships: connecting government agencies, school boards, community groups and other non-government agencies to develop common goals and better ways to work together.

The HKCC will be funded for three years by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC), but is delivered as a partnership through all seven area municipalities (three cities and four townships).

Funds will be disbursed from the Province to the Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services as the common partner for all seven local municipalities. Each of the seven areas will then be able to decide how to allocate the funding to best serve their community's unique interests and needs. To help make these decisions, a Waterloo Region Healthy Kids Community Challenge governance structure was created in the form of a Steering Committee.

Please see below for a list of the Steering Committee Members.

Organization Representative Contact Information
Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services

Katherine Pigott

Manager, Healthy Eating and Active Communities

519-575-4400 ext. 5415 

Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services

Danielle Lodwick

Local Project Manager, Waterloo Region Healthy Kids Community Challenge

519-575-4400 ext. 5305

City of Cambridge

Nicole Cichello

Coordinator, Recreation

519-740-4681 ext. 4652

City of Kitchener

Denise Keelan

Manager, Aquatics and Athletics

519-741-2200 ext. 7420 

City of Kitchener

Kelly Rush

Aquatics Supervisor Cameron Heights Pool

519-741-2200 ext. 3459

 City of Waterloo

Nancy Hall-Jupp

Supervisor, Leisure and Active Living Programs

519-886-1177 ext. 27270 

Township of Wilmot

Vicky Luttenberger

Manager, Recreation and Community Services

519-634-8444 ext. 240 

Township of Wilmot


Lacey Smith

Recreation Programmer & Youth Action Council Facilitator

519-634-8444 ext. 251

Township of Woolwich

Jennifer Horndl

Facility Supervisor, Woolwich Memorial Centre/Woolwich Township Arena

519-669-1647 ext. 6022 

Township of North Dumfries

Michelle Poissant

Coordinator, Recreation & Community Services

519-632-8800 ext. 102 

Township of Wellesley

Brad Voisin

Director, Recreation


Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Brigitte Webster

Consultant, Healthy and Active Living




For more information about the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, or for additional resources, contact:

[i] Region of Waterloo Public Health (2015). Child Health Report Series: Nutrition, Physical Activity and Health Outcomes - Technical Addendum. Waterloo, ON: Drew, S.

[ii] Reilly, J.J., & Kelly, J. (2011). Long-term impact of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence on morbidity and premature mortality in adulthood: Systematic review. International Journal of Obesity. 2011;35(7):891-8.

[iii] Strauss, R.S. (2000). Childhood obesity and self-esteem. Pediatrics, 2000;105(1):e15.

[iv] Region of Waterloo Public Health (2011). Waterloo Region Community Assessment Report. Waterloo, ON: n.a.

[v] Region of Waterloo Public Health (2014). QuickStats: Sedentary Activity, Waterloo Region & Ontario, 2011-2012. Waterloo, ON: n.a.

[vi] Active Healthy Kids Canada. (2012). Is active play extinct? The Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: Active Healthy Kids Canada.

[vii] Waterloo Region Record (14 September 2015). Road ahead: It will be a long haul to get more kids walking to school in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. Waterloo, ON: Outhit, J.