Why give?

Frequently Asked Questions


Q How will Activate help my blood pressure? Why is blood pressure a qualifier for the program?
A Activate is a lifestyle-change program helping people with elevated blood pressure (121-139 systolic / 80-89 diastolic) prevent the onset of high blood pressure. The program will help you make small healthy choices which in turn help prevent the onset of high blood pressure. 

If your blood pressure is greater than 120 systolic (top number) and 80 diastolic (bottom number), you could be at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Our trained volunteers will measure your blood pressure for you. Please note that blood pressure varies throughout the 24-hour cycle and is influenced by a number of factors. Blood pressure can vary depending on physical activity, stress, caffeine, and food intake. Any abnormalities in blood pressure should be discussed with a healthcare practitioner to determine if any action plan is needed.
Q Where are the participating YMCA-YWCAs and what is being offered?

If you qualify and enroll in Activate, you will receive:

- A 2-Month Free Membership at the participating YMCA-YWCA location of your choice (only available to non-Y members)

- 1 Free Personal Training Session (available to both Y members and non-Y members)


Greater Toronto

YMCA of Greater Toronto - Brampton, Markham, Mississauga, North York, Oshawa, Scarborough, Toronto 

YMCA of Oakville - Oakville

Southeastern Ontario

YMCA of Niagara - Fort Eerie, Grimsby, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland

South-central Ontario

YMCA of Hamilton Burlington Brantford - Brantford, Burlington, Hamilton, Waterdown

YWCA Hamilton - Hamilton

YMCA-YWCA of Guelph - Guelph

YMCA of Cambridge & Kitchener Waterloo - Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo

Southwestern Ontario

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario - Chatham-Kent, London, Sarnia, St. Thomas, Windsor

Northern Ontario

YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka - Barrie, Collingwood, Innisfil, Midland, Orillia, Wasaga Beach


YMCA of Greater Vancouver - Surrey, Chilliwack and Vancouver

Vancouver Island

YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island - Victoria, Langford and View Royal

Q What is the online health platform and what benefits does it provide?

When you enroll in Activate you get access to the online Activate health platform which has a vast collection of resources. The platform was developed in partnership with NexJ Health and the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI). It’s available on desktops, tablets, and smartphones and includes:

  1. Expert advice from a health coach
  2. Health library full of curated health and wellness content
  3. Informative workbooks on how to maintain a healthier lifestyle
  4. Guided goal setting to think about where you would like to be and then work towards it
  5. Health trackers to monitor daily progress and earn PC OPTIMUM points
  6. Forums to post questions and share information with other Activate participants
  7. Health questionnaires and motivational challenges
Q What should I expect during the 6-month program? What happens after?

Throughout your journey, take advantage of Activate tools and resources to achieve your health goals. 

You can explore the online health platform and get familiar with its many features. 

You can set health goals and trackers, complete guided Workbooks & Questionnaires, and continue learning through the Health Library and Forums. Meanwhile, you can get active with a 2-month free membership to participating YMCA-YWCA Health & Fitness Centres  (for non-Y members), and learn to eat better at a Loblaws Grocery store tour with in-store Dietitians.

Track your progress in the platform to stay on track and earn PC OPTIMUM points. Your Personal Health Coach, Loblaws in-store Dietitian, YMCA trainers, and Activate community are there to support and motivate you through your journey!  

After 6 months, we will invite you to meet with a trained volunteer to see how far you’ve come. 

Q Who can see my personal information?
A The information provided during the program will be kept secure and strictly confidential.  Your name and personal contact details will never be made public. Heart & Stroke has partnered with NexJ Health and University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) to provide coaching support for Activate participants. Access to identifying information (name, age and gender) will be limited to our partners to deliver program services. At all other times, information will be presented by a unique ID that anonymizes participants. 

The results of the program will be audited by an independent organization, the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC), to measure the program against its pay-for-success goals. SRDC will have access to a limited set of program data, which will be presented by this unique ID only.  
Q Why is Activate only for people over 40?
A Activate is a lifestyle change program helping people with elevated blood pressure prevent the onset of high blood pressure. Research shows that the risk of developing high blood pressure increases with age, and hence, the focus is on people over 40. For the purposes of this program, Heart & Stroke and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are targeting a specific group which will help them understand the impact of program activities and design for future development.

Heart & Stroke is excited to continue developing more programs related to hypertension - both preventive and otherwise.
Q Why can’t people enroll if they have diabetes or take blood pressure medication?
A The eligibility criteria identify participants who will benefit most from the program. Adults already on blood pressure medication do not meet these criteria. Some diabetic medication is anti-hypertensive and we are not associated with an EMR (electronic medical record) system or lab to verifiably determine if diabetic medication is not anti-hypertensive, so we are focusing our program on people not on medication to reduce high blood pressure. If a person has had a stroke and is not on medication they could qualify for Activate, provided they meet the other criteria. 
Q Where is Activate available? If I’m outside the designated areas, can I still join?

We are enrolling participants between September 2019 - May 2020 across Canada in select YMCA-YWCA and other community locations. See the Locations page for more detail on where you can meet our trained volunteers.

Q Is the program free for participants?
A Yes! Heart & Stroke is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing to deliver Activate. It was important to support accessibility for all participants who qualify, and the various program activities are offered at no cost to the participants.

Activate, formally known as the Community Hypertension Prevention Initiative, is funded through Canada’s first health-related pay-for-success model (PFS), also known as a social impact bond (SIB). This represents a powerful new way to raise funds from the private sector for public good. Learn more.
Q How will my health coach help me? Who are the health coaches?

You will be assigned a health coach based on the online health questionnaire you complete during enrollment. They will help you:

  1. Set and review health goals
  2. Stay on track with reminders and updates
  3. Overcome anticipated barriers
Health coaches are accredited healthcare providers such as kinesiologists, nurses, dietitians, or physiotherapists and qualified to help support improving healthy behaviour. 

They have a background in health and managing health risks (specifically diet, exercise, and stress management). They are supervised by a clinical team of experts and have regular checkpoints with Heart & Stroke.
Q How do I earn PC OPTIMUM points? What if I don’t have a PC OPTIMUM card?
A You must enter your PC OPTIMUM number into the Activate online platform to earn reward points as you engage in healthy behaviours such as reading health content, completing questionnaires, tracking their behaviour and reaching personal goals. 

If you do not have your PC OPTIMUM number during your appointment, you may add it later through the platform and earn points retroactively as long as you enter your number before the program ends. 

We recommend you join the PC OPTIMUM program so you can earn reward points offered as part of the program. If you are not a member at the time you join Activate, you will still earn points in the program. These points will be awarded retroactively once you join the PC OPTIMUM program and enter your PC OPTIMUM card number into the Activate platform. Visit to sign up!

Have more questions?

We have answers!

Life. We don't want you to miss it.