Wellington West Merchants promote healthy hearts this February

A woman plays a drum next to a very large red heart on display outside.
The Wellington West BIA unveiled Heart Month in Kitchissippi during an event on Feb. 1. Photo by Charlie Senack

*This article is sponsored*

The Wellington West Business Improvement Area (BIA) is all about heart health with a month-long celebration throughout February!

“At the beginning of every year, the Wellington West BIA celebrates what we call our Heart Season,” said Dennis Van Staalduinen of the Wellington West BIA. “From January until the end of March, we focus on the themes of heart-healthy exercise and healthy eating and promote all our businesses in that space.”

During the Heart Season, the BIA raises funds for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and promotes local businesses that help keep your heart healthy. Wellington West is home to many health businesses, such as gyms, yoga studios, chiropractors, and healthy eating establishments. Heart Season also promotes more casual activities like skiing, bowling, or simply taking a winter walk. 

“February is more specifically focused on fundraising for the Heart Institute,” Van Staalduinen said. “We recruit our members for participation in the Heart Institute ‘Paper Hearts’ campaign, and we set challenges to be the biggest fundraising area in Ottawa through our BIG HEART Challenge.”

The Big Heart Challenge is a fitness and winter activity challenge in partnership with Run Ottawa. Last year, participants walked or ran a virtual two kilometres every day until the end of the month, raising over $8,000 for the Heart Institute. This year the federal government awarded a one-time grant to the BIA which has allowed them to expand the program.

“We’re going beyond running and walking, we’re allowing people to choose what they want to do on a given day,” said Van Staalduinen. “We’ll have a list of activities they can choose from, like a walk every day, a 4k ski on the Kichi Sibi trail, half an hour of yoga or workout, or a round of bowling at the bowling alley. As long as they do one thing, they qualify for the challenge.”

Local businesses will also be adding special challenges specific to their stores that count toward the challenge. Participants can sign up for a single challenge, a seven-day challenge, or the full 14-day challenge to fundraise for the Ottawa Heart Institute and win prizes starting February 14.

To kick off Heart Month, the Wellington West BIA will be unveiling an art installation provided by the Heart Institute. In addition to this large display, will be eight interactive art installations created by artists Esrawe + Cadena. Collectively titled “Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0.” The fun and interactive installations will light up specific points down the two-kilometre stretch of Wellington West for everyone to enjoy.

On Valentine’s Day weekend, the BIA will host the BIG HEART Valentine’s Night Market at the Parkdale Market, which will feature a selection of local vendors.

Finally, Feb. 25 is Special Activity Day, where extra special activity challenges will be set up all across Hintonburg and Wellington Village. Each of these activities will also count toward the Big Heart challenge.

Two red swings are on display outside of the Salvation Army Building on Wellington Street West
An interactive display of large swings will be on display along Wellington St. W. for the month of February. Photo by Charlie Senack

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