Wellness Capital of Canada (or is that world?)

September 9, 2009

Making a Difference

A new initiative was launched yesterday to work towards making Guelph the wellness capital of Canada.  Some details can be found at the Advanced Food and Materials Network’s website. These are my speaking notes which will give you a sense of what the initiative is all about. 


Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to Guelph’s new City Hall. We’re delighted to have you here today for the launch of the Guelph Wellness Initiative. 

I’m pleased to offer congratulations on behalf of the City of Guelph, and express my thanks to Honorary Chair Ken Murray and Chair Dr. Ron Woznow for leading this initiative.  

I spent some time on the University of Guelph campus today, speaking to students and staff at the start of a new school year. The theme of all my remarks was the connection between the university and the community – between research and the so-called “real world.”  I can’t think of a better example of that connection than the Guelph Wellness Initiative. The Advanced Foods and Materials Network has truly engaged the community in this effort.

I know that many University of Guelph researchers and staff are involved in the project. Other partners include the YMCA-YWCA, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Health Unit, and the City of Guelph. And, there is a long list of others who are part of the advisory committee or supporting organizations.

As the initiative begins, it will reach even further into the community as people and organizations are registered.  

It’s appropriate that we’re holding the launch at City Hall, because this initiative is not just about research – it’s about community.

When I first met with Dr. Woznow and heard about this project, I was immediately excited about it.

 Wellness was a topic that had been emerging for me in a number of different contexts. At the City of Guelph, it’s one of our corporate values for employees, along with Integrity and Excellence. Wellness is also an important part of the “social” pillar in the triple bottom line of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. It is often mentioned in discussions about economic development, as we seek to attract businesses and talent to Guelph.  For many different reasons, we know that we need to promote wellness.

But the question has always been, how do we define it – and more to the point, how do we measure it? If we don’t know how to measure wellness, it’s impossible to know if our investments and programs are achieving results. This is a challenge for employers, for policy-makers, and the whole community.

So, you can imagine that when Dr. Woznow told me he intended to tackle this challenge, I was quite pleased. I eagerly signed up the community of Guelph to become the “wellness capital of the world.”

In addition to helping us understand wellness better, this initiative will also empower people to improve their health and wellness. It will help us become a healthier, happier community – which is good for all of us.  

 So once again, thank you to Mr. Murray, Dr. Woznow, and all those who have worked to launch this initiative.  And thank you to all the organizations represented here today, for your enthusiastic support of Guelph Wellness.  The City of Guelph is happy to participate.  And, I look forward to seeing Guelph become the wellness capital of the world.

Thank you.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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