Interactive Community Tours of Témiskaming
By Gisèle Hauser, HC Link
Interactive Community Tours of Témiskaming is a community project that integrates mobile technology, culture, outdoor fitness and community involvement. It is an example of creativity, collaboration and innovation that uses modern technology to fulfill a community need while taking advantage of its cultural and environmental assets.
The project is led by Centre Culturel Artem, a not-for-profit cultural organization in the Témiskaming region of Ontario. Project partners include the Niska Leadership Centre, EPDISON (a mobile and web software company), the Ontario Population Health of Francophone Minority Research Network at the University of Ottawa and the Community Health Centre of Témiskaming.
The Interactive Community Tour project began as a cultural initiative aimed to assess the assets of the region of Témiskaming, from a tourism perspective. Then, when the health implications of the project became apparent, the idea slowly expanded its focus to include an outdoor fitness component. The expanded interactive tour concept consists of offering a series of exercises along defined tours in the community, making use of environmental elements present along the tour routes such as trees and park benches. Outdoor fitness improves not only physical health, but plays an important role in mental and emotional health. In addition, studies have demonstrated that individuals who engage in outdoor exercise are more likely to continue than if the activities are offered indoors.
Users of the interactive tours - pedestrians, motorists, motorcyclists or even cyclists - have free access to the nine different tours through their smartphones or tablets. The tours include six historical and/or cultural tours (English and French) and three health circuits (French) and combine video, audio, photo and text elements, as well as maps.
Interactive Community Tours of Témiskaming is an economical, accessible and innovative community-led initiative.
From the cultural and tourism perspectives, the project provides the opportunity for the local Francophone population to profile its assets, its culture, its heritage and pride of being Francophone. The health feature offers to the population and to health professionals a different model focusing on fitness and well-being. It is a project for the future and an excellent example of the use of a community’s resources.