The Synergy Pact: A Community Exercise Program
Written by: The Synergists (Victoria, Kevin, Farhan)
In November 2019, the three of us attended a Project Management Institute (PMI) Toronto Chapter meeting and inadvertently discovered the 2020 Ontario Project Management Competition (OPMC). This yearly competition was held to encourage project management students to plan and execute a project for two months, in order to to apply their project management knowledge to real life situations. This year’s theme is to plan and execute a project that aligns with one of the United Nations’ 18 Sustainable Development Goals. Within seconds, we were inspired. We were going to see exactly where experience takes us. However, no one could have expected that this inspiration would flourish into something so much bigger than ourselves.
Prior to entering the project management program at Centennial College, each of us worked for a few years and developed routines that ended each day by going to the gym. When we started school, our routines no longer existed. Going to the gym became irregular, the increased workload made us feel isolated, and the lack of sleep worsened our general feelings of anxiety. We desperately wanted to find that balance again without compromising our health and academic obligations. For these reasons, we started The Synergy Pact: A Community Exercise Program, a six-week pilot project that pairs active and inactive Centennial students to increase their weekly physical activity. Our objective was to mitigate the risks of developing depression and anxiety, and the future risks of developing cardiovascular disease. This project aligns with the United Nations’ Third Sustainable Development Goal to promote good health and well-being. By two weeks before our winter break, we had obtained exceptional collaborative efforts from The Business School, the Centennial College Student Association Inc. (CCSAI), The Center of Accessible Learning and Counseling Services (CALCS), The School of Community and Health Studies, The Athletics and Wellness Center (AWC) at Progress Campus, and most importantly, the expertise and mentorship of our project management professors.
Despite time constraints and endless obstacles, we were able to recruit 15 participants in the span of four days and executed this project from January 22, 2020 to February 28, 2020. In these six short weeks, we successfully created a community that had increased their weekly physical activity as measured by fitness tests and improved their mental wellness scores as measured through exercise surveys. In addition to these success measures, what held greater meaning was the feedback we received from creating this community. Participants reported feeling reduced levels of stress since they started exercising, and insisted the stay past the allotted two-hour workout sessions to learn more about what exercises to perform outside of our weekly workout sessions. These once-inactive participants were now motivated to live healthier lifestyles, because they now had the tools to do so. It is a privilege to have our project place second at the 2020 OPMC, and it has been an honour to guide the uplifting journeys of these 15 participants. We hope that the results of this project will be further explored to determine a long-term program that uses exercise to help Centennial students cope with their mental and physical health challenges.