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Silver Chain Challenge in 2018 includes new counties

PEMBROKE: The County of Renfrew is again joining with Mississippi Mills Bike Month, and the Ottawa Valley Cycling and Active Transportation Alliance (OVCATA) to get more people out walking and cycling.  Together, they are spearheading the Silver Chain Challenge, which started six years ago as a friendly competition between Renfrew County and Lanark County to promote healthier communities. Participants compete online to see which County can log the most kilometres biked or walked over the month of June.

Individuals can register and record their daily activity online and the distances get totalled, with adjustment in recognition of population size. From June 1 through 30, residents can log their kilometres - whether walking or biking - by going to www.silverchainchallenge.ca.

This is the sixth year of the Challenge, which began as a Mississippi Bike Month initiative in Lanark County. In the past two years, Renfrew has won. This year there are numerous new features. Hastings and Prince Edward Counties are joining the competition.

A real-time bar graph of kilometres clocked is displayed on the homepage of this website, showing how the counties measures up. There are also displays of group and township participation.

"We hope to inspire healthy competition and talk more about healthy, active communities where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds move more, to build healthier communities, and enjoy healthier and happier lives," said Renfrew County Warden Jennifer Murphy.

This year, Challenge organizers are putting special emphasis on involving seniors, children and schools.

"The benefits are real," says OVCATA co-chair Ish Theilheimer. "They include improved mental and physical health and an engaged and active community."

The health units of all counties involved have become champions of the challenge. Together, they have organized a group called Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Network to coordinate and promote events like this.

OVCATA's work on the Challenge is supported, this year, by funding from Ontario's Ministry of Transportation and Senior's Ministry.

"It's wonderful to see Renfrew County so actively involved through the help of the Emergency Services department, with its emphasis on safety and health," Mr. Theilheimer said.

"We have backed the Silver Chain Challenge from the start, so it's great to have an even more active role in it this year," said Emergency Services director Mike Nolan. His department has been organizing planning meetings, has overseen the website renovations, and is contributing a summer student to help with the project. "It's a positive, effective way to help people in our community to be healthier."

Click here for more info and to register.

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OVCATA is a voice for cyclists and all active transportation enthusiasts in the Ottawa Valley, advocating for safety and good conditions, bringing people together, and encouraging participation. Here are some of the things we accomplished in our first year.

2017-2018 directors of OVCATA

Co-chairs: Ish Theilheimer (Golden Lake)
Patricia Krose (Whitewater Region)
Secretary: Ron Moss (Pembroke)
Treasurer: Debbie Fiebig (Renfrew)
Members at large:
Damien McCarthy (Petawawa)
Bob Peltzer (Bonnechere Valley)
Eric Price (Pembroke)
Greg Ellis (Maberly, Lanark County)
Robert Howe of Barrys Bay provides legal advice and support.