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News Release

Advancing Access to Affordable Recreation in Durham receives Ontario Award of Excellence

WHITBY, ON April 03, 2017 - Durham Region Health Department is pleased to announce that the Advancing Access to Affordable Recreation in Durham (AAARD) Committee has received the Award of Excellence in Access and Equity from Parks and Recreation Ontario (PRO). This award was presented during the 2017 PRO Awards Ceremony and Gala Banquet on March 30 at Deerhurst Conference Centre in Huntsville. This prestigious award recognizes champion individuals, groups or organizations that have embraced the vision and objectives of the national Affordable Access to Recreation Policy Framework to enhance equitable access to recreation. Award recipients must demonstrate outstanding work in increasing access to recreation for marginalized populations through policy, programs and services, partnerships, infrastructure and/or funding. Advancing Access to Affordable Recreation in Durham

“Municipalities across Durham Region are dedicated to providing affordable recreation to all residents,” said Sarah Klein, Town of Whitby Manager of Recreation and Chair of AAARD.

AAARD is a partnership with the Health Department, municipalities, regional representatives, community organizations, and district school boards involved in the delivery, funding or promotion of recreation programs. AAARD’s goal is to increase the number of residents who are able to enjoy the benefits of recreation and to affect public policy and increase community investment by documenting the positive impact of increased access to recreation for families on low income.

“Access to recreation is important because it can be a place where individuals and families find supportive relationships, learn new skills and become involved in their community. These factors can improve physical health while decreasing stress, anxiety and the risk of chronic diseases,” states Elizabeth Cullen-Keidann, Health Department public health nurse.

In 2016, subsidy funding for recreation programs in Durham Region was provided for nearly 8,000 individuals, with $900,000 in funding—three times the amount of subsidy provided when AAARD first began its work in 2013. AAARD was also awarded a Local Poverty Reduction Fund Grant of $548,000 to implement a three-year project evaluating the impact of a co-ordinated participant-centred service and support system to improve participation in recreation and active living initiatives by families receiving Ontario Works.

For more information on recreation subsidies, a copy of the AAARD Report, and the most recent newsletter, visit, or call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.  

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Media inquiries

The Regional Municipality of Durham:
Cameron McDonald - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 3094 or

Town of Whitby, Sarah Klein - Manager of Recreation, 905-430-4338 or

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

For more information, please contact Health Department.