“It’s really amazing to be able to invite people in the community to get active together, even at a distance.”
The strength and bonds of communities have been put to the test over the past year and a half, and it obviously hasn’t been easy to stay connected – especially when it comes to getting active and engaging in physical activity with those around us.
However, the past 16 months have also provided some unique opportunities for communities to create innovative programs to help support their members in staying active and healthy. All it takes are community leaders such as Stella Isaac from the west-end Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale, who’s teaming up with the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge to share her passion for active living through her Salty Saturdays street workouts.
“When the lockdown started last year, I was training for my outdoor track season but when we were obviously forced to stay home, like so many others I felt disconnected from my team and friends and that was really hard,” Stella shared with ParticipACTION. “So, my mom motivated me to start my own street workouts, which I wasn’t super into to begin with, but a neighbour of mine got interested, then another and another and it just went on from there.”
“Friends of mine and people in the community would bike by and see us getting active in the street, they would literally drop their grocery bags and get their bodies moving. That’s when I realized it might be something special. It’s a lot of hard work, but we distract each other with awesome music, laughs, and just having a good time together outdoors.”
“Parkdale is so special, we really are a community. We know each other. We stop on the street and chat and catchup. That’s Parkdale,”
Throughout the month of June, Stella will be hosting outdoor sweat sessions for people of all ages and abilities. Aside from making sure people are reaping all the benefits of active living, Stella is extremely passionate about providing accessible activities for everyone in her community, something she has been doing all her life.
“Parkdale is so special, we really are a community. We know each other. We stop on the street and chat and catchup. That’s Parkdale,” said Stella. “It’s really amazing to be able to invite people in the community to get active together, even at a distance.”
“We’re all very family-oriented, so I am really excited to see the range of people who are coming out to participate in the events this month. From youngsters to parents to people with disabilities or even retirees, it’s going to be a really welcoming space – I always strive to ensure that my spaces are open to everyone. I’m excited to give back to everyone.”
Championing inclusivity and accessibility when it comes to physical activity has always been a part of who Stella is and who she continues to be.
Which is a major reason why she is so excited to be bringing even more Salty Saturday events to her community with the support of the Community Better Challenge.
“I’m going to be doing my Saturday classes outdoors for the entire month of June down at Ontario Place,” Stella said. We’re also going to be having some other special events both in person and online to help as many people as we can get involved and moving their bodies.”
“I really try to make the events as impactful as possible, even if the groups are only of 10 or so.”
Stella’s amazing efforts highlight how physical activity can connect us and bring communities together, something we could all use right about now!