Could the place you live make you healthier?


We all need support live well.

North-Central Calgary is our Living Lab

North-Central Calgary is our Living Lab

North Central Calgary is a microcosm of the future Canada. Our community is diverse with a range of wealth and poverty. There is limited social infrastructure and the fragmented urban landscape makes it hard to be active and connected. Millions of other Canadians live in similar environments. The ways we live and build our cities are sometimes making us sick. We need to find ways to adapt and transform them. We think play might offer a way to start that change.

In Canada, the vast majority of Canadian children are not active enough. Nearly two thirds of children and youth do not meet the recommended Canadian guidelines for physical activity. They are facing increased mental health stress and isolation because of our changing lives. Being physically active & socially connected are the pillars of healthy living and play an important role in helping to prevent future chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

According to data from Statistics Canada, only 9.5% of children and youth (aged 5-17 years) meet all the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth, which include recommendations for daily physical activity, screen time and sleep. Only 38% of children and youth meet the physical activity guidelines.

“Inactivity among Canadians is a leading cause of preventable chronic disease and a growing public health issue. Initiatives like the Vivo Play Project are important because they help to create supportive environments for children to develop healthy habits and address the common risk factors underlying many chronic diseases.”

Dr. Theresa Tam Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

Asset 123.png

“When people move more and are socially connected, their lives improve”

Tracey Martin  |  April 2019


Social R & D for Healthier Generations

The Vivo Play Project is unique because it is part public health research initiative & part Social Innovation lab. We call that intersection Social R&D. We are at the forefront of a new generation of government, industry, and not-for-profit labs that are working to develop new ways to tackle the grand challenges facing our communities. Vivo is a leader in the Canadian innovation ecosystem, sharing, and collaborating with others across the country.

Why does this matter?

We need a wide-angle approach to thinking about the future

We need a wide-angle approach to thinking about the future

The challenges we face as a society have never been more interconnected and unpredictable. To tackle them we need new approaches. Social innovation is both a goal and a way of working. That’s why it needs the same kind of research and development other industries do. Social innovation is focused on creating positive changes, across scales; changes that get at the root causes of tough problems and that can really tip a system in a positive direction.

The dream of raising healthier generations requires exactly this kind of systems work. Igniting shifts in the lives of north-central Calgarian’s and enabling them to move & connect through play is the goal. We call the project a “lab” because our team is works on experiments and initiatives that make space for new, creative collaborations, and to stimulate work on new approaches for change.

It is now common for governments, corporations and not-for-profits across Canada to employ in-house labs to work on very complex and public issues. The Alberta CoLab, the Ontario Digital Service, BC’s Government Digital Experience Division, the Canadian Digital Service, Calgary’s Civic Innovation YYC, The Suncor Foundation, The Ability Centre, and, MaRS Solutions Lab stand out. The Government of Nova Scotia recently launched the NS CoLab to explore transforming their health system.


Be a catalyst for change


Train as a Play Ambassador

Are you, or do you want to become, a “human swiss army knife” that can work the heart of north-central Calgary to create change through spontaneous play?

Over the next 4 years we will be offering free Play Ambassador Training to more than 300 volunteers, professionals and community members.

Children spend most of their time in structured, adult-directed activities, despite the mounting evidence in support of unstructured, child-directed play. What is child-directed play? How do you structure un-structured activities? How do you facilitate child led activities? How do you support children in their exploration of risk in a landscape of risk-aversion? At the Vivo Play Ambassador training, we provide an opportunity to learn about all of these things through an experiential, inquiry based approach designed to give you the knowledge you need to succeed while making an impact on your community.


Design the solutions to your own challenges.



We believe that the best solutions come from the community itself. Participate in a co-creation event to add your voice and perspective to the project.

Co-Creation is the secret sauce that makes our projects successful. That means working to amplify, support and strengthen the diverse and insightful perspectives of our community. To let them not only inform, but shape the project from the ground up.

Throughout the Vivo Play Project we will be testing cutting edge approaches for bringing the community together to design play hubs, technology solutions and the play ambassador training.

We recently hosted a massive event called STRATEGIES FOR PLAYING IN SUBURBIA


Explore the intersection of technology and health


Using technology to measure impact

We are building digital tools to help everyone see the change that play makes in their lives and community.

One part of the project is to create, deploy, and validate a first-of-its-kind Children’s Application (aka a Dashboard) linked to wearable activity monitors (think smartwatch or step tracker). We have the opportunity for 500 research participants each year to access this tech for free. They will be able to see real-time data translated into personalized health status & prediction risk for chronic disease. We have a hunch this might help shift behaviors.

The other is to provide a population wide summative dashboard aggregating real-time health and wellness data collected from the participants and other data sources. This will be also available to identify participants in need of motivation, and to foster more evidence-based play programming and well as a population wide perspective on the impacts of the intervention.


Ready to Go?

Our Approach

Come Play

Sign Up