Kids playing with large ball

Our Approach

Housed within the Faculty of Science and Kinesiology and Physical Education Department at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Centre for Physically Active Communities is focused on offering physical activity and educational programming to the community as well as conducting holistic and integrated research on physical activity and healthy living knowledge. While we are physically located in Laurier’s Northdale Science Research Centre, we are often send our team of program leaders out to the community to deliver programming in places most convenient for our participants. 

CPAC provides access to a safe and affordable space for children to be physically active, learn the skills that will help them be active for life, learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, and prevent chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity, such as type 2 diabetes. We use the Sport for Development approach to intentionally use sport and physical activity as a vehicle to build healthy communities and inspire families to become active together while teaching youth to become leaders within their community.

We are committed to merging programming and evaluation through measurement and research to ensure our team of researchers gain a stronger understanding of how to improve the overall health-related quality of life for community. CPAC collaborates with other organizations and community stakeholders to plan, develop, or enhance events, projects and initiatives regarding improvement of physical-activity levels and knowledge regarding active living choices.

Learn More

If you have any questions about CPAC, please reach out.

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A lack of physical activity (PA) along with an increase in sedentary behaviours in Canadian communities resulting in overweight, obesity and associated chronic physical and mental diseases, that are serious public health threats. In terms of health care costs, the economic burden of physical inactivity and the resultant diseases in Canada was estimated to be in the billions of dollars (Janssen, 2012; Katzmarzyk & Janssen, 2004). More recent data indicates that 24% of all deaths could be attributed to physical inactivity, representing a 3-year loss of life expectancy for an individual (Manuel et al., 2016).

The greatest impact in alleviating the health issues brought about by physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour may be achieved by targeting both adults and children. Early PA intervention can instill the importance of life-long PA and ultimately decrease the burden on Canada’s health care system. Unfortunately, Canada as a whole has been continuously ranked poorly on national evaluations of levels of PA, raising major concerns for the health and well-being of this population. Despite evidence-based research indicating the preventive capabilities of regular PA, there remains a dearth of accessible, research-based, community activity programs for children and families. The Centre for Physically Active Communities (CPAC) is focused on conducting holistic and integrated research on physical activity with broad consideration of all facets of research that will assist in solving the puzzle of physical inactivity (i.e., physiological, psychological, socio-cultural). 

Scope of Activities and Opportunities

The scope of activities the Centre engages in includes: 

  • Promoting physical activity and the prevention of negative outcomes associated with inactivity  
  • Working cooperatively with community groups, and allow the utilization of space by community partners
  • Conducting interdisciplinary research spanning the disciplines of Kinesiology, Psychology, Sociology, Geography, Education, and Health Sciences
  • Providing unique undergraduate and graduate student learning opportunities and leadership experiences
  • Improving PA policy by contributing research knowledge and experience from PA interventions to create better guidelines for PA
  • Initiating and sustaining the shift of understanding of primary health care workers who currently operate using a model where the treatment of adults is the primary focus rather than the prevention chronic disease and mental health issues


Dr. Pam Bryden, Executive Director

Dr. Pam Bryden is a founding member of CPAC and obtained her BA in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario in 1992, MSc in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo in 1995, and PhD in Kinesiology and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She manages the overall direction of CPAC and oversees the Centre’s operations.

Nicole Vandermade, Program Coordinator

Nicole Vandermade holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health Promotion degree from the University of Texas. Currently, she is responsible for development, delivery, and operation of CPAC’s comprehensive recreational programs for community members within Waterloo Region. Through collaboration and teamwork, Nicole connects community activity needs with students and faculty to advance community health and movement related research.

Executive Committee

  • Dr. Alanna Harman
  • Dr. Michael Cinelli
  • Dr. Kim Dawson
  • Dr. Jennifer Robertson-Wilson


Current members for the 2021-2022 school year are:

  • Pam Bryden
  • Todd Coleman
  • Mike Cinelli
  • Kim Dawson
  • Sean Doherty
  • Mark Eys
  • Paula Fletcher
  • Alanna Harman
  • Tom Hazel
  • Renee MacPhee
  • Julie Mueller
  • Jennifer Robertson-Wilson
  • Margie Schneider
  • Linda Quirke

If you are interested in becoming a member of CPAC, please email for more information.