The Grand défi Pierre Lavoie: 10 years of promoting healthy life habits among young people

By going directly to the source, our youngest people, we can change mentalities and create a new culture of health.

By Mélanie Larouche

Is your family among the Quebec families who are counting "energy cubes" to get moving? It has now been 10 years since Pierre Lavoie and Germain Thibault started making Quebecers aware of the need for healthy life habits. Their strong convictions and unwavering perseverance have created an impressive social movement. Encounter with Pierre Lavoie.

Mr. Lavoie, after 10 years of spreading the "good news," what are you proudest of?
When I hear that 80% of children in Quebec elementary schools are now doing energy cubes, I think that all of our hard work is really paying off! 

Achieving such an ambitious goal takes a lot of support, and a lot of people, passionate, committed people. The Grand défi Pierre Lavoie brings people together. What those people do every day makes our message even clearer. 

I am delighted and proud that our organization has achieved this longevity! We're getting everybody up and running, and it isn't coming out of taxpayers' pockets. Our organization gets 90% of its financing from the private sector.

In your opinion, what is the biggest benefit to the community from your initiative?
The widespread adoption of healthy life habits. People are being accountable for their health, and committed to it! 

By going directly to the source, our youngest people, we can change mentalities and create a new culture of health. Our biggest challenge was getting people to accept some restrictions to improve their quality of life over the long term. 

Forcing yourself to move when you're not used to it isn't always fun. Motivation is essential, so we encapsulated that in the energy cubes. The cubes are virtual, so everybody imagines them differently and collects them in their own way. 

We're not all born athletes, but we all want good health!

Was there a key moment in your quest that reassured you in your mission?
I remember an intense experience I had two years ago, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I was addressing a crowd of 8,000 before the launch of our bike tour. I was at the top of the starting arch, and people's response was almost frightening.
This popularity felt like a lot of pressure. I'm an ordinary guy. I'm not perfect, and I'm not a hero! People know my story, that I started this movement after my children died. No father in my situation would sit down and do nothing. 

What can we expect from the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie in the next 10 years?
We're going to keep doing what we're doing, grow the movement, create new events across Quebec so we reach all clienteles. Today, even the health professionals are supporting us. They're prescribing walking for their patients, and even meeting them at the events. We've got great momentum, so we're going to keep on going!

10 years of the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie represent:
  • 10,000 km covered
  • $1million raised
  • 165 schools sponsored
  • 188 projects carried out
  • 38,000 children who are moving
  • 10 years of healthy life habits

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