A Yukon group in the running for a prize worth up to $1 million believes in the power of recreation to make people healthier and happier. 

"We really believe in the benefits of recreation to rural and remote communities in the North," says Anne Morgan, executive director of the Recreation and Parks Association of the Yukon (RPAY). 

RPAY is one of three finalists for the Arctic Inspiration Prize, sponsored by Arnold Witzig and Sima Sharifi. The couple are immigrants who say they want to help their adoptive home tackle the major challenges it faces in the North. 

The prize can be awarded to one group in full, or split amongst them.

"I'm a little biased, but I think our chances in the Yukon are very good and that we're going to be somewhat successful or completely successful in the awarding of this prize in January," says Yukon Commissioner Doug Phillips.

He met with Sharifi on the philanthropist's recent visit to Whitehorse. 

RPAY's pan-territorial project would focus on the development of a community recreation leadership training program in rural and remote communities, says Morgan.

Thumbs up from Zach Bell

Australia Cycling Track Worlds

Olympic cyclist Zach Bell of Watson Lake nominated the Tri-Territorial Recreation Training Project for the Arctic Inspiration Prize. (The Associated Press)

The project was nominated by Olympic cyclist Zach Bell, who grew up in Watson Lake. 

"It might seem like a simple initiative on the surface, but as the product of rec. programs, I know what kind of an impact they can have for kids in northern communities," Bell wrote on his Facebook page after the prize finalists were announced.

"I hope they win this prize. It will mean so many kids get access to consistent and life-changing programming."

The Arctic Inspiration Prize winner or winners will be announced on Jan. 27 in Ottawa at the Northern Lights 2016 business and trade show conference.