After nine years, the Keep Moving Family and Fitness Sunday programme is no more. Organiser and former national cyclist Michael Phillips confirmed the news yesterday but offered a glimmer of hope to the hundreds that come out weekly to train, compete or recreate on the cordoned off portion of the Diego Martin Highway.
Phillips said it has become a financial burden to host the programme which costs approximately $15,000 per month.
“It became an extremely expensive proposition for me to continue.
I’ve spent hundreds of thousands on the programme which is basically free to the community.
It’s something I wanted to do as a resident of Diego Martin with the hope it would spread to other areas,” he said.
Phillips added, “All the burden really started to fall on our shoulders. I am of course disappointed, if it was something I could have taken on on my shoulders, from a financial perspective, I would gladly do it. But particularly now how the economy is, it made things extremely challenging for us.”
He said the decision to end the programme three Sundays ago has not been greeted happily by the public and corporate bodies and Diego Martin residents have been clamouring for him to restart it. “The response has been people coming forward and asking how they could assist. Dialogue has started mainly with the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Health and collaborating to find a solution. We’ve spoken to the Police Service too — which is the majority of the expense.
Phillips said the benefits derived from the initiative is tremendous as it not only fosters community spirit but encourages people to live a healthy lifestyle.
“This is the only programme of its kind in the Caribbean as recognised by Caricom Heads of State Health Conference and the Pan American Health organisation.”
The decision to end the programme has had ripple effects with the Trinidad and Tobago Triathlon Federation, Trinidad and Tobago Cycling Federation and running fraternity also utilising the Diego Highway on Sundays to conduct their training and host events.
“In addition, you had people who were doing personal coaching, instructors, people came just to walk or walk their dog, rollerblade or rollerskate,” he said.
He explained, however, Massy, which has been a cash sponsor for the past year, is keen to see the programme continue.
He said Massy president and Group CEO Gervase Warner has promised to increase the company’s support, while Guardian Holdings has also expressed interest to come on board as a sponsor.