The City of Cold Lake was one of 16 pilot communities from across Alberta to receive grant funding from the Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund, Alberta Health Services, to implement the Alberta Healthy Communities Approach (AHCA).

The AHCA works with communities to discover their strengths through a community-driven process to create healthy places and social spaces for all. The Cold Lake Healthy Choices Count Coalition was formed in the fall of 2015. A core team of 6 community members and stakeholders came together to work towards creating healthy community environments that prevent cancer and chronic diseases.  The AHCA engages communities to build on existing strengths, act on priorities they identify, and define their own path to health and wellness. Using this proven approach, strategies were implemented to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.

The goal of the Healthy Choices Count Coalition is to support the community of Cold Lake to be a healthier place to live, work, play and age. The coalition utilized a Healthy Community Assessment Tool to get a ‘snapshot’ of community places and social spaces. Using the results of these assessments, and the core team’s knowledge, healthy eating and UVR protection were prioritized. An action plan of community based activities targeting these two areas was created, and implemented.

As part of the healthy eating strategies, a goal was developed to increase affordable healthy food options available to community members who access community organizations on a year-round basis. The coalition then chose to fund Tower Gardens for four community organizations. Tower Gardens are illuminated, free-standing growing stations that provide year-round access to garden fresh produce. They are a great way to quickly and easily grow fresh herbs, leafy greens and vegetables. The coalition was inspired by the Tower Gardens that they previously saw at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

Towers now stand at Happy House Daycare, The Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre, Cold Lake Parent Link Centre, and 4 Wing Cold Lake. They have been a success. Happy House Daycare stated, “We were extremely grateful to be able to enjoy some "Happy House Lettuce" today! It is quite remarkable to have watched the produce grow right here in our hallway and that our amazing cook Sarah harvested the delicious, leafy vegetables today just prior to lunch. It doesn't get any fresher than this! The children were in love with the whole concept. We heard a lot of "yums!" And "Happy House Lettuce is good!"

 Youth at the Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre painted the towers to look like totem poles, and Lesley Chiasson from the Cold Lake Parent Link Centre said the vegetables have been popular with the families that use the facility. “They take the harvest home with them for supper.”

Tammy Buchanan, PSP Health Promotion Manager for 4 Wing Cold Lake said there is now a waiting list for additional towers, as the ones that are available are being enjoyed by many people. “Everyone likes the ambience,” Buchanan said.

Cold Lake News article

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