For my non-Canadian readers, ParticipACTION is Canada's premiere physical activity NGO whose stated mandate is,
"As Canada’s premier physical activity brand, ParticipACTION helps Canadians sit less and move more through innovative engagement initiatives and thought leadership."They're also funded primarily by Coca-Cola - to the tune of $10 million over 10 years which unless ParticipACTION pulls an escape chute, will last through April 2018.
It was almost inconceivable back in 2007 that ParticipACTION felt that "thought leadership" included a partnership with Coca-Cola, but I'd argue it is wholly inconceivable now. With the World Health Organization, Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation, and even Health Canada discussing the need to reduce free sugars in our diets, and recent estimates suggesting that the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is responsible for over 180,000 annual deaths, ParticipACTION simply can't re-up with the world's largest single source provider of free sugars and still try to pass itself off as caring about the promotion of health.
And the writing may be on their wall. In ParticipACTION's recently published Strategic Plan entitled "Moving Forward" two statements caught my eye,
It’s time to make ourselves more relevantand,
It’s time to reinvent our funding modelAnd finally, just as a gentle reminder, here's what former ParticipACTION champion Hal Johnson had to say about Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION.
I am disappointed that Participaction has partnered with Coke, it doesn't fit no matter how much money they are getting http://t.co/hAyogrPT— BodyBreak (@bodybreak) June 22, 2012
Let's hope that we actually do soon see some ParticipACTION "thought leadership" with a formal announcement marking the end of their bizarre Coca-Cola era, even if that means cutting their ties earlier than they'd planned. It's never the wrong time to do the right thing.