Sun Life commits $750,000 to support Laurier’s Center for Healthy Communities

WATERLOO — Sun Life has donated $750,000 over five years in support of Laurier’s Center for Healthy Communities. The center will be named the Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities in honor of this generous contribution.

The Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities (CHC), formerly the Sun Life Center for Physically Active Communities, is an initiative of the Laurier Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE), designed to connect undergraduate and graduate students to community organizations on and off campus.

This community outreach program seeks to improve activity levels and the overall health of youth within our community, providing free or low-cost physical activity programming for high-priority youth to prevent chronic illnesses associated with sedentary lifestyles, including type-2 diabetes.

Building on the skills and enthusiasm of Laurier students, CHC offers diverse programming for children and youth in our community who would not otherwise have access.

This funding from Sun Life will support exciting new developments at CHC, such as increased investment in the intentional tailoring of programming and outreach to equity-deserving groups, including hiring a part-time Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) specialist to ensure inclusive programming ; expanding the geographic scope of CHC programming to Brantford, with a specific aim to engage Indigenous youth in the region, including hiring a dedicated Indigenous program leader; broadening the scope of available health programming to include more mental health components such as resilience, coping mechanisms, mindfulness and self-regulation; increased investment in program measurement, evaluation and reporting, including hiring a dedicated research facilitator to lead data collection and evaluation.

“Sun Life’s generous gift gives life to the Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities — with this support we can continue to change young lives, put bright futures into motion, and inspire youth in the Waterloo and Brantford communities,” says Pam Bryden, executive director of the Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities.

Founded in 2016, the center has focused on providing physical activity and educational programming to the community while conducting holistic and integrated research on physical activity and healthy living knowledge. The center’s physical activity and educational programs have served thousands of at-risk youth in the Waterloo Region.

In partnership with Sun Life, the Center will build on the success of programs in Waterloo and expand to the Brantford community, as well as seeking to engage the family unit — by ensuring participants have good role models for health, children and youth will be better equipped to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Enhancing the educational component of the program to include more mental health components will complement the physical activity programming as research shows that physical activity is a key to good mental health and is a valuable tool for those experiencing anxiety, stress and depression.

“Laurier’s partnership with Sun Life in support of physically active communities has made a difference in the lives of more than 5,500 youth in Waterloo Region,” says Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “We are thrilled that with Sun Life’s support, we can expand this program to Brantford, and integrate mental health components into the services offered.”

Sun Life has a long-standing focus on supporting proactive and preventive health and wellness programs that help build stronger, healthier and sustainable communities. Diabetes has become a global health epidemic and affects over 463 million people worldwide — Sun Life aims to slow the advance of diabetes and its related complications by boosting the health and wellness of clients, employees and communities, having contributed more than $46 million to this cause around the world.

“We’re committed to helping Canadians live healthier lives and are thrilled to continue supporting Laurier with the Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities,” says Dave Jones, president, Sun Life Health. “The center’s programming for youth and families is exceptional. The work they’re doing supports the health and wellbeing of countless people in the Waterloo and Brantford communities.”

About Wilfrid Laurier University

Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to academic excellence. Laurier’s holistic approach to learning integrates innovative programming with hands-on experience outside the classroom to ensure Laurier graduates are not only ready for the future but are inspired to leave their mark on the world. Community is at the heart of all we do. Laurier inspires students to engage in campus life and the broader community, leading to high levels of student satisfaction and engaged alumni who carry the Laurier legacy throughout the world. As a community of researchers, leaders and educators, Laurier builds knowledge that serves society and creates connections that have a lasting impact. Learn more about Laurier’s more than 20,000 students in nine faculties in Waterloo, Brantford and Kitchener at wlu. ca.

Sun Life in the community

Sun Life is sustainability-driven, focusing on areas where it can have the greatest impact. By actively supporting the communities in which Sun Life lives and works, the organization can help build a positive environment for clients, employees, advisers and shareholders. Physical health and mental health are at the center of our philanthropic support, with a focus on supporting programs and organizations that strive to empower people in Canada to live their healthiest lives no matter where they are on their journey. Sun Life employees and advisers take great pride in volunteering and giving back to make life brighter for individuals and families across Canada.

Learn more about Sun Life in the community.

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