Collaborative spirit brings flying disc fun to the City of Brooks

For over 15 years, the Brooks ChooseWell Committee has worked together to ensure residents can access healthy choices in their community. They recently received a ChooseWell Healthy Community Grant to build Brooks’ first disc golf course, providing access to a sport with physical, social and mental health benefits. “We wanted people to get outside and enjoy our green space…The community really jumped on board,” says Laura Lukye, chair of the Brooks ChooseWell Committee.

By Anna Schmidt, 2023

In 2006, a group of health-care workers, school officials and municipal employees gathered in Brooks, Alberta. They had one common goal — to make their community a place where everyone had the opportunity to be well.

They wanted to break down siloed work, and soon realized their collaborative vision aligned with the Communities ChooseWell approach. The group joined the provincial program, and soon became the Brooks ChooseWell Committee. For over 15 years, they have been working together to bring healthy living initiatives to the prairie city of 15,000.

“We have been with ChooseWell forever, it feels like,” laughs Laura Lukye, chair of the committee and a health promotions specialist with Alberta Health Services. “It’s been such a great program for us. We’ve really taken advantage of everything ChooseWell offers.”

Through the years, Laura and her colleagues have attended ChooseWell’s events, met other Champions and accessed knowledge and support through these connections. “It has really impacted our community. We’ve been able to bring in things that wouldn’t have been possible without ChooseWell. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Laura.

Recently, Brooks received a $5,000 Healthy Community Grant from ChooseWell to help build a nine-hole disc golf course in the city’s Meadow Lake neighbourhood — the first course in the municipality. They used the grant funds to help purchase baskets, tee-off mats, signage and disc kits that can be borrowed from the city for free. 

The idea was born during COVID-19 lockdowns, when residents were looking for safe ways to participate in physical activity. “We wanted people to get outside and enjoy our green space…The community really jumped on board,” says Laura.

The Brooks ChooseWell Committee partnered with the city’s parks department to design and install the course, a local business to make the baskets and signage and a nearby recreation centre to create a borrowing system for disc kits. Now, the course is complete — running alongside a lake and paved walking path in a park that Laura describes as a “hidden gem.”

Since installation, students from a nearby K-12 school have started using the course for phys-ed courses, as well as residents. “People of all ages and all abilities can do it,” says Laura. “It takes away a lot of barriers that exist with different sports. You don’t have to sign up and there’s no cost to it…You can play at your own pace.”

Not only does the course provide an accessible way to get active, but social and mental benefits as well, adds Laura. “It’s just so good for your mental health — connecting with nature.”

The Brooks ChooseWell Committee is planning a grand opening event for this spring, and hopes residents will build social connections through the sport as well. “It’s an add-on to our community that makes it better and healthier,” says Laura. “It’s a positive thing that people can do in our city. They don’t have to leave — they can enjoy it right here.”