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Andrea has been with HC Link since its inception in 2009 and is currently HC Link Coordinator located at Health Nexus. Andrea has an extensive background in physical activity and health promotion and has worked in local recreation centres and public health units as well as provincial NGOs and agencies. Andrea is a student of French and is passionate about working with Anglophones to build their capacity to engage Francophones
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Linking for Healthy Communities: Day Two Reflections

It’s the day after our Linking For Healthy Communities: With everyone, for everyone conference. Aside from feeling exhausted, I’m thrilled that conference participants were engaged and excited throughout the conference.

Day Two began with two sessions of four workshops. I heard many people say that it was difficult to choose which workshop to attend as they all sounded wonderful!

day two sessions

Following the workshops and (yet another) magnificent meal (featuring the BMO Institute’s famous and unbelievably delicious) bread pudding, it was time for something a little different. When we first started planning this conference, and selected the theme of diversity, inclusion and working across difference, we wanted to provide an opportunity for small group conversations for conference participants to cultivate empathy, think from other people’s perspectives and co-learn. We came up with the idea to merge together a Living Library format with a World Café, where we would have table facilitators from a variety of life and lived experience work with small groups to deepen conversation and reflection. HC Link was very fortunate to work with consultant Sara Mohammed, who created an incredible “collection” of “Living Books” to help conference participants explore successes and barriers in this work. Throughout the Living Library Café, conference participants were engaged, open, and reflective.

living library

We closed our conference with something even more unique. Branch Out Theatre joined us to interpret our conference experiences through participatory theatre, music and movement. It was a wonderful way to digest the past two days and close the conference.

theatre

 

This was our third- and last- Linking for Healthy Communities conference. We have been thrilled to have hundreds of people join us over the years, to work with you, learn with you and celebrate. 

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Conference Workshop: Working with the Priorities of People Living in Poverty

There are a lot of workshops at this year’s Linking for Healthy Communities conference that I was excited about. But I think the one I was looking forward to most was Jason Hartwick and Gillian Kranias’ workshop Working with the Priorities of People Living in Poverty. The workshop provided a lot of open space for us to reflect on our own work and experiences, for us to discuss the values and principles of community development work, and for us to hear about Jason’s work and experiences (which frankly, I could have listened to all day). What I loved the most about the workshop was the opportunity to reflect on my own experiences and what I've personally learned. 

jason 3

One of the key messages from the workshop was about the assumptions and biases made about people who live in poverty. Societal reaction to those living in poverty is that “they” are handed everything that they need (eg social assistance), that they are responsible for their own conditions, and that they should “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”. But, as Josephine Gray says, “they” do not have boots. The reality is much more complex.

jason 1

People who live in poverty are often treated as if they have no value: the only thing expected of them is to live on social assistance and accomplish nothing. One workshop participant recommends using as asset-based approach: to recognize that communities have something inherently good and precious about them. Jason talked about the importance of pride, that communities who live in poverty rarely feel like they have something to be proud of.

Another take-away for me is how those of us who work in agencies come to the work with the agendas of our agencies: our mandates, our visions, our programs, our timelines. It’s important to keep those agendas slightly behind us (rather than pushing them in front of us) and use an open approach with communities. Rather than walking in and talking about he wonderful program that we have, we need to take the time to ask: what do you need? What do you want? Jason says communities do not have to own the problem, but they can be a part of creating the solutions.

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Linking for Healthy Communities: Day One Reflections

We had a marvellous first day at Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone (in my slightly biased opinion!). Our conference began with Elder Whabagoon offering us the Strong Woman song and traditional water ceremony. Elder Whabagoon invited us to speak to water every day: love the water, thank the water, and respect the water. We then welcomed our incredible keynote speaker, Kim Katrin Milan, to the stage. Kim’s talk was called “Centering the Margins” and she spoke of the importance of reflecting and engaging people in conversations.

Kim

 

 

 Following the keynote, conference participants had small group reflection time to talk about the themes in Kim’s talk that resonated for them, and to identify questions to ask Kim. I was then lucky enough to join Kim on stage to moderate the Q&A session.

Day one Reflection

 

Throughout the rest of the day, everyone I spoke with talked about how Kim’s talk had impressed them, motivated them, and encouraged them to think differently. You can view Kim’s prezzie online.

Following an excellent lunch, conference participants chose from 4 workshops: a networking session for Local Project Managers involved in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge; a FrancoPavillion; what Successful Partnerships Do: an equity and inclusion lens; and Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power and Privilege in Health Equity Practice. If our twitter feed is any indication, the workshops were enthusiastically received!

This is a bittersweet conference for those involved (past and present) with HC Link. After nine years of working together, this is our last conference. We wanted to celebrate not only our work, but your work, and the work we’ve done together. We hosted a celebratory reception and heard brief remarks from each of the Executive Directors of HC Link’s three member organizations: Lorna McCue from the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, Joanne Brown from Parent Action on Drugs, and Barb Willet from Health Nexus. Around fifty people joined us to celebrate and share memories of what we’ve accomplished together.

reception

It’s now just before starting time on Day Two and we’ve got a lot to look forward to today: 8 concurrent session workshops, a Living Library Café and theatre event. We hope you enjoy the day!

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Conference Workshop Profile: Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power & Privilege in Health Equity Practice

Our 2017 conference is just 11 days away (I can’t quite believe it!) and the excitement among HC Link staff, volunteers and presenters is growing! On the afternoon of day one, Monday November 20, conference attendees will have a difficult choice to make between four excellent workshops. One of them, Reflection and Action on the Impact of Power & Privilege in Health Equity Practice, is being delivered by our colleagues Kim Bergeron and Samiya Abdi from Public Health Ontario. Learn more about this workshop- and why you should attend- by watching this short video that Samiya and I filmed.

 

Hope to see you at the conference! The registration deadline is November 13th and there will be a draw for a $100 Indigo gift card for registrants! Registere here

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10 reasons to attend Linking for Healthy Communities: with everyone, for everyone

HC Link’s bi-annual conference, Linking for Healthy Communities, is now less than a month away! Our theme for this conference is with everyone, for everyone. At the conference, we’ll link, learn and share about topics like equity, diversity, cultural humility, inclusion and allyship, with a focus on youth, ethnoracial, Francophone, and Indigenous communities.

The full conference program was released last week, which contains many reasons why you’d want to attend the conference. If you need even more reasons however, here’s what HC Link staff love about the conference, and why we think you should attend (in our slightly biased opinions):

Lisa Tolentino, Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition

I love that the conference is a place to meet dynamic people doing dynamic things - and also making new connections/developing new contacts. The ability to see things through a different lens and being better able to understand other peoples’ perspectives on issues is a huge benefit for me. I come away from the conference energized with optimism and ideas for creating change on both personal and professional levels. At least that was how I felt after the last conference, and I suspect that this one will be the same :)

Patrick Delorme, Health Nexus

To design this conference’s French offerings, I assembled an advisory committee of Francophone organizations and stakeholders to provide advice and guidance. The result is what we’re calling “Pavilion Franco”. It will be an open space to connect with Francophones and those who provide French Language Services (FLS). The Pavilion Franco will feature:

  • Mini-sessions on the priorities of Francophone communities

  • Marketplace of FLS service providers to share their resources and services

  • A wall mural for people to share what they have to offer and what they need, in terms of FLS services, resources, and expertise

We’ll also have two breakout workshops in French: one that I’ll co-present with Gillian, on working in partnership, and the other on systems of governance.

Gillian Kranias, Health Nexus

I’m really looking forward to this year’s conference. I couldn’t think of just one reason to attend, so I’m including the four things I’m looking forward to the most:

  • Expanding my networks of people who care about doing partnership work in new and more equitable ways.

  • Having space and time to talk about some of the difficult moments.

  • Reflecting on and improving my skills and approach in a supportive environment – both at workshops and over breaks/meals

  • Experiencing the speakers and facilitators – such a rich lineup in a mere two days!

Rebecca Byers, Parent Action on Drugs

This year’s conference, more than ever, provides time and space to explore important topics and have meaningful discussion with people from varied experiences/perspectives. The program includes individual reflection, interactive workshops, large group and table discussions, small group activities, as well as time for networking and informal conversation.

Robyn Kalda, Health Nexus

The BMO Institute for Learning is such a lovely venue! With so many conferences, you feel like you’ve been cooped up in a hotel basement all day (because you have) and you come blinking into the light at the end of the day like an animal emerging from hibernation. This place isn’t like that – it’s very welcoming, comfortable, full of light and a sense of space and pleasantness, and yet there are quieter spots too where introverts like me can sit and recharge our batteries (and drink excellent coffee).

Andrea Bodkin, Health Nexus

I’m excited about pretty much everything to do with this conference. Like Robyn, I adore the BMO Institute and their magic latte machines. I’m really looking forward to our keynote speaker and plenary sessions (after 8 years of HC Link we finally have interpretive dance on the program). I think I’m looking forward the plenary discussion opportunities, especially the Living Library Café, the most. After two days of talking about and thinking about diversity and inclusion and working across difference, how will people be reacting? How will people be impacted? What impact will the conference make when we all head back to work? That’s what I’m looking forward to hearing about!

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Looking at hospitals with a health promotion lens

This week I’ve had a slightly difference experience to the ones I usually blog about for HC Link. A close family member of mine has had surgery and is in the ICU. While I certainly have lots on my mind at this time, I also can’t help looking around me and noticing the ways that hospitals promote the health of their patients and their families.

My first experience of this hospital was when my family member and I met with the surgeon several weeks ago. A hospital fundraiser was underway. Understandable that fundraisers are necessary, but selling Krispy Kreme Donuts?

selling Krispy Kreme

Yesterday in the ICU waiting room, I noticed a series of wall displays of patient information. Good idea, as many people in that waiting room are there for hours at a time (as most of the time you can only visit your loved one for 10 minutes at a time). However this one gave me pause:

Empty isolation info rack

Social isolation is one of the factors that influences health -- social inclusion is one of the social determinants of health recognized in Canada -- and I can only imagine how feeling isolated and alone makes patients feel and affects their healing. The impacts of social isolation and the benefits of social inclusion aren’t always recognized. I think this empty display speaks to the lack of resources available not just in this display, but overall.

Now to the good news.The hospital does address isolation by allowing visiting at any time.

visitanytime

This hospital -- like many -- has a program to allow vulnerable-feeling pedestrians to walk to parking lots, bus stops and residences safely. A quick call to hospital security gets you a burly escort to your destination of choice.

walksafe

And here’s one from a BC hospital that HC Link’s Robyn Kalda took: humour and hand washing!

buttons

I could go on, but I need to get back to the hospital. Healthy healing everyone!

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Measuring Partnership Effectiveness

Screen Shot 2017 09 18 at 10.41.00 AM

Measuring Partnership Effectiveness: evaluating partnerships

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This blog is one of a series profiling some of HC Link’s “oldie but goodie” resources from the past several years. This resource was published under HC Link’s previous name, the Healthy Communities Consortium, by former member organization OPHA.

Evaluate, celebrate and renew is one of 6 activities for successful partnerships, which Gillian Kranias and I presented in a June webinar. According to a survey conducted with participants of that webinar, it’s one of the activities that people find the most challenging. In 2008 I wrote that the world of evaluation can seem mystical, confusing and daunting. I will cheerfully admit that 9 years later, I still often feel like that! That’s why I delved back into a two-part resource that we published in 2011 on partnership evaluation, Measuring Partnership Effectiveness.  Part one provides and overview of partnership evaluation, including the benefits of assessing your partnership and principles to guide your partnership evaluation efforts. Part Two profiles a number of tools that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your partnership.

A simple way to think about evaluation that’s relevant to those of you who work in partnership, is the three levels to partnership evaluation:

  • Level 1: Measuring coalition infrastructure, functioning and processes: how well the partnership is working together. Level 1 evaluation is process evaluation that measures short-term outcomes.
  • Level 2: Measuring partnership programs and interventions: what the partnership is accomplishing together, such as the activities delivered and populations impacted. Level 2 evaluation is outcome evaluation that measures short and intermediate outcomes.
  • Level 3: Measuring community change and community outcomes: changes in health status, community capacity, the sustainability or institutionalization of programs and services. Level 3 evaluation is outcome evaluation that measures long term outcomes.

Conducting a Level 1 evaluation can provide valuable information on how your partnership is functioning, how each partner is contributing to the partnership, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the partnership. This information can be used to help your partnership improve and make adjustments over time, resulting in improved functioning and a greater likelihood of achieving the goals and activities of the partnership. Tools used to assess partnerships typically gather data on things like:

  • Purpose of the partnership: vision, mission, goals
  • Partnership structure and meetings
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Member diversity and involvement
  • Sense of community/cohesion and identify
  • Task focus and sustainability
  • Use of resources
  • Membership needs and benefits

So what does a Level 1 evaluation look like? Here’s a case study from HC Link’s efforts to assess and improve its partnership functioning:

As a partnership between three provincial organizations, HC Link understands the importance of assessing our partnership functioning as well as how we meet our goals and objectives.  Our Level 1 partnership evaluation focusses on measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of HC Link, how well we are structured/organized, how well we communicate, and the quality of our relationships.

We evaluate annually, using a mixed-method approach, with different approaches each year: surveys, key informant interviews, focus groups, analysis of service statistics and document reviews. One of the more innovative approaches we use is “Evaluation Day!” where HC Link staff are paired up and answer a series of questions in a dialogue. Immediately following, individuals answer an online survey. We found that the paired interviews develop relationships and understanding, and provide a richness that is then reflected in the online results. This would be a great approach for steering committee members! You can read more about “Evaluation Day!” in this blog post.

We use the results of our partnership evaluation to celebrate our accomplishments and highlight areas for improvement. When an area(s) for improvement is identified, we develop a strategy to help us strengthen this quality. Over our 8 years of working in partnership, we have made a number of adjustments based on the results of our evaluation. For example, we make changes to our meeting structure on an annual basis, and have made several rounds of changes to our structure to adapt to our changing environment/contexts. 

 

In addition to the ten tools analyzed in the Part Two resource, here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

The Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory has an online collaboration assessment tool with research-tested success factors.

Bilodeau, Galarneau, Fournier & Potvin have developed an 18 indicator tool: Outil diagnostique de l’action en partenariat. Currently the tool is available in French only, however Health Nexus is adapting the tool for English audiences.  

Collaborative Leadership in Practice(CLIP) was a project of Health Nexus and the Ontario Public Health Association. The aim of the project was to equip leaders to be able to collaborate with diverse partners and recognize the power structures that exist in our partnerships. On the resources page, you’ll find an excellent tool- with guide- called Equity Analysis Tool of Group Membership.

HC Link’s Participatory Evaluation Toolkit and The Power of Reflection: an introduction to participatory evaluation techniques describe techniques that can be used to help assess and strengthen your parntership.

This 2017 edition of HC Link’s Digest + is on evaluation, and contains many more helpful tools and resources. 

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Resource Profile: Engaging Marginalized Communities: Honouring Voices and Empowering Change

This blog is one of a series profiling some of HC Link’s “oldie but goodie” resources from the past several years.

Several years ago, we partnered with the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) to profile work they had been doing to engage marginalized communities within local Healthy Communities Partnership activities. engagingmargThe resulting resource, Engaging Marginalized Communities: Honouring Voices and Empowering Changeby Rishia Burke, has become a bit of a touchstone for me and the work I do with populations and communities across Ontario. Published in 2011 in English and in French, the resource summarizes the project, the engagement techniques used, and provides insights into the benefits and challenges of engaging populations who feel marginalized. 

The first lesson that I keep from this resource is the use of the term “marginalized”. Often in health promotion, we have cautions about the words that we use to talk about specific populations and communities. I often refer to the resource Let’s Talk: Populations and the power of language, which explains that the words we use to talk about communities (such as marginalized, at-risk, racialized etc) can have power implications for those who use the words as well as those who are being described. Rishia approached her work in Halton Region with that same lens: she was uncomfortable using the term “marginalized” until she understood that the community responded to this word: they wanted to be called marginalized because that’s how they felt: on the margins. Outside, excluded.

In my HC Link work I talk about building trust relationships a lot. What Rishia reminds me is that with some groups, building trust can take longer. With populations that have little power, feel like they are not heard or respected, and feel isolated, building trust before proceeding in any kind of engagement is critical. Rishia recommends going to where the people you are trying to reach are: in her case, Rishia went to food banks and chatted with those waiting in line. She went to community barbeques and coffee shops. Rishia shared information with those she was developing relationships: she talked about her own childhood, her parenting experiences, and her project. This is in stark opposition to our habit of inviting communities to our spaces, where they may not feel safe, where they may not be able to easily travel to, where they feel or fear they may not be welcomed.

The SPNO project recommends these key steps to engaging marginalized communities:

steps 2 engage marg

I hope you’ll be able to apply the learnings in this resource as I have. And if this topic is of interest to you, come to our November conference Linking for Healthy Communities: With everyone, for everyone where we will reflect, learn and share about equity, diversity and working across difference. 

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Re-framing The Golden Rule

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m really excited about this year’s HC Link conference. Because a) I’m nearly always excited about something, b) I work at HC Link and so I have a slightly biased opinion and c) the conference is at the BMO Institute, which has a specialty coffee machine whose decaf lattes I dream about on a regular basis. Beyond those reasons though, I’m excited about the conference because of the theme: equity, inclusion, and working across difference.

This is a theme that is exquisitely suited to the times that we are living in. We really want this conference to be a place where people from all walks of life, of all different identities and different experiences can come together to talk, reflect, exchange ideas and think critically about how we can transform our communities into spaces with everyone, for everyone.

KimMatrinTo compound my excitement, we have an amazing keynote speaker to kick off the conference. Kim Katrin Milan is writer, multidisciplinary artist, activist, consultant, and educator. She speaks on panels and keynotes and facilitates radical community dialogues. Her art, activism and writing has been recognized nationally. The foundation of much of Kim’s work is a re-working of The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you. This, Kim says, assumes that everyone wants to be treated in the same way, and that we are the standard for other people’s needs. Rather, Kim advocates that we treat people the way that they want to be treated: which means that we need to engage in a conversation about the wants and needs of others. We need to ask about the gender pronouns that they want us to use; we need to ask what cultural sensitivity looks like to them; we need to ask what safety looks and feels like to them. It’s in the way that we ask and create conversations that we make communities where no one is left behind. This can, of course, seem very daunting. Kim also advises us to start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.

In her keynote at the HC Link conference, Kim will talk about allyship, bias and its role in upholding inequities, and actions we can take (in our personal and professional lives) to do what we can. Kim’s keynote will be inspirational, practical, and though-provoking. Watch Kim’s video about her keynote. 

I hope you’ll join us at the HC Link Conference, learn and share about equity, inclusion, diversity, and working together across difference. 

Want to register now? Go directly to the registration page here. Our Early Bird pricing of $310 ends next Friday, September 15th!

See you soon!

 

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New Resource from HC Link: Effective Meetings

I spend a lot of time in meetings: up to 50-80% of my time some weeks. There is nothing worse than spending time in ineffective meetings- while your to-do list grows and grows.  Designing and holding effective meetings is hardly rocket science, however ineffective meetings are a world-wide phenomenon. To the point where you can even purchase ribbons congratulating you for surviving a meeting…..Consider this quote from the Harvard Business Review:

meetingquote

That’s why HC Link created this French resource, which my HC Link colleague Robyn Kalda and I just adapted into English. In this resource, we outline three simple steps for effective meetings:

meeting steps

While, as I mentioned, this is not rocket science, it’s still pretty easy to hold an ineffective meeting. Here are some of the common pitfalls that I often see, and my advice for avoiding them:

  • Holding meetings for the sake of meetings: Set a clear purpose for each meeting. Think carefully about what it is that you need to accomplish, then determine if a meeting is the right mechanism for that. For example, if you simply need to provide an update, that can be done via email. One-on-one conversations might be more appropriate. In other cases, a quick teleconference might be adequate.
  • Not getting the right people around the table: Carefully consider exactly who needs to be in the meeting, given the purpose of the meeting. If decisions are being made at the meeting, ensure that meeting participants are able to make decisions in the meeting. If the meeting is about the implementation of a program/service, ensure that those who are involved in the execution of the program are at the meeting. Also consider if people actually need to be in the meeting, or if you can touch base with them before or after the meeting to provide an update. 
  • Prep work isn’t done ahead of the meeting: If this is a working meeting that depends on meeting participants doing/reviewing work ahead of time, ensure that they have enough time to get their work done before the meeting. Involve participants in the setting of the meeting date. Be willing to postpone the meeting if work isn’t done in time.
  • Unrealistic agendas: I’ll often review agendas for meetings where I think “we’ll be lucky to get through half of these agenda items”. I once had someone tell me that agendas are aspirational – that there is no need to actually finish the entire agenda during a meeting. I respectfully disagree. Be very realistic when you are setting the agenda, and be sure to include timing for each agenda item. It is the chair’s responsibility to keep the agenda on track and on time. However, there is a balance to be struck here: sometimes unexpected discussions need to take place, occasionally I’ve had to toss out entire agendas and start again. It’s important to read the group and be flexible as well.
  • Technology: Technology is a double-edged sword: it can provide a way for participation from other locations; it can also waste precious time in meetings if you are struggling to get the tech working. If you are going to use technology in a meeting, be sure that you have tested everything ahead of time and that participants are familiar with how to use it. A backup plan is a good idea too.
  • Starting late- and often ending late too. Start and end meetings on time. The end.

Now go forth and hold effective meetings! If you need advice, call HC Link! Our consultants love to give advice on how to make your meetings efficient and worthwhile.

Helpful Resources

For a little fun – check out these videos Teleconferences in Real Life and Every Meeting Ever.

HC Link’s Facilitation for Healthy Communities Toolkit and The Power of Reflection: An introduction to participatory evaluation techniques provide many excellent tips and techniques that can be used in meetings.

This excellent article from the Harvard Business Review lists the 6 purposes of meetings and the different types of meetings.

This blog post from GovLeaders.org lists 6 Golden Rules of Meeting Management. 

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Sustainability Planning Part Three: Developing a sustainability plan

This post is part of a series of blogs on program sustainability and sustainability planning. Read the pervious posts, What is sustainability? And Components of Community Work.

I’ll be honest. I loooove planning models. When I embarked on researching models for PlanSustaindevelopingsustainability plans and did not find a pretty step model- I was disappointed. Though when it comes down to it, planning is planning! So this blog post, rather than providing a step model or planning process, summarizes important points and advice for sustainability planning.

  • Like evaluation planning, planning for sustainability should be done as early in the program development process as possible. The office of Adolescent Health has identified eight key factors1 that influence whether a service, program or its activities – and therefore community benefit- will be sustained over time.
  1. There is an action strategy or program plan
  2. An environmental scan or assessment was conducted
  3. The program is adaptable
  4. The program has community support
  5. The program can be integrated in community infrastructures
  6. There is a leadership team
  7. Strategic partnerships have been created
  8. Diverse funding sources have been secured
  • As mentioned in my first blog post, sustainability planning should focus on community need: therefore assessing the environment is critical. Look at community readiness, local demographics and existing services1. Also assess the financial and political environments. Look internally as well, assessing your own organizational environment such as leadership, staffing and infrastructure1.
  • Like any comprehensive program plan, a sustainability plan contains goals, objectives, action steps, timelines, roles1 and metrics for tracking progress on each action step2.  It should be a living plan that is regularly re-visited1.
  • In your sustainability plan, consider the four components of sustainability discussed in the second post in this series: the issue, the programs, the behaviour change, and the partnership 3.
  • Share your success! Increase the visibility of your work in the community, through the media, conference workshops, publishing case studies etc. Develop a marketing strategy that promotes the success/results of your program as well as the program itself4.
 
References
  1. Office of Adolescent Health, 2014. Building Sustainable Programs: The Framework.
  2. Calhoun, Mainor, Moreland-Russell, Maier, Brossart and Luke. Using the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool to Assess and Plan for Sustainability. Preventing Chronic Disease 2014; 11:130185
  3. Heart Health Resource Centre, 1999. @heart: Heart Health Sustainability. Toronto, Ontario
  4. Office of Adolescent Health, 2012. Build to Last: Planning Programmatic Sustainability.
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Sustainability Planning Part Two: the Components of Community work

This post is part of a series of blogs on program sustainability and sustainability planning. Read the first blog in the series, Sustainability Planning Part one: What is sustainability?

 

As I often do when learning about something- in this case- sustainability- I turned first to HC Link’s resources. In this case, I turned waaaaaay back

sustain 4 componentsbeyond the 2009 inciption of HC Link, to a resource written by one of HC Link’s founding partners, the Heart Health Resource Centre. Written in 1999, the resource Health Heart Sustainability (available only as a scanned copy), was designed to support community partnerships participating in the Ontario Heart Health Program develop sustainability plans. While created specifically for the Ontario Heart Health Program, the ultimate goal of which was the reduction of behaviours that lead to cardiovascular disease (physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, smoking and stress), I think that this model is applicable to many other programs that focus on behaviour change, and in particular, involve multi-dimensional community partnerships.

This table suggests results for each component of sustainability, and gives a sense of various options within each category:

sustain table 3

What I really like about this model is that it goes beyond thinking how to replace expired program funding: it encourages us to think about what it is we are trying to change (the issue) the change we actually want to see (the behaviours), and the partnerships we’ve established to do the work.  Consider how to address sustainability of each of these components not only in your sustainability planning, but as you are designing your program.  

Read the third post in this blog series, Developing a Sustainbility Plan

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Sustainability Planning Part one: What is sustainability?

This post is the first in a series of blogs on program sustainability and sustainability planning. Stay tuned for the next posts: Sustainability Components of Community Work and Developing a Sustainability Plan.

Lately we’ve been getting service requests from organizations and partnerships who are interested in sustaining their programs beyond the end of their funding period. “Sustainability” is one of those mysterious terms that is used a lot, though we don’t always know what we mean when we say it! I decided that I needed to find out more about what sustainability is and how to plan for it.

There are many different definitions of sustainability. Sustainability can be defined simply as a continuation1: the ability to carry on program services through funding and resource shifts or losses2. In other cases, sustainability can be about institutionalizing services; creating a legacy; upholding existing relationships and maintaining consistent outcomes2. Often we think of sustainability meaning about funding3:  however sustainability planning should focus on community needs, which shift and change over time2.  Sustainability is not a single event or a linear process: like many things in healthy communities and health promotion, sustainability planning is a continuous process that may involve one-step-forward-two-steps-back and multiple components happening at the same time2.

The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) in the U.S. has several excellent resources on sustainability. In particular, their 2012 Tip Sheet titled Built to Last3 provides an excellent, 5 page primer to sustainability planning. In the tip sheet, the OAH lists four common challenges to sustainability of programs and services:

  • Organizations have difficulty in planning far enough ahead to secure necessary resources
  • There is a lack of well-documented successes to share with the community and funders, despite the quality of the program
  • There is a lack of stakeholder ownership of the program
  • Funding streams are finite and there is competition from similar organizations

Sustainability planning should not be automatic: in other words we should ask ourselves if the program should be sustained rather than simply assume that it should. I've adapted the below questions from the OAH tip sheet and a guidebook of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the U.S.4:

  1. Does your program or service address a need in the community?
  2. Do your evaluation results demonstrate that you are making a difference?
  3. Do you need to sustain the entire program? What parts of the program are the most effective and needed?

What I’m taking away from this wee bit of reading that I’ve done on sustainability, is that we often focus our sustainability efforts on replacing program funding, with the assumption that our programs should continue.  Sustainability is not about replacing expiring funding- though obviously that’s a part of sustainability planning. Rather, sustainability planning should be a fluid, ongoing process that is specifically tailored to local needs and the environment in which the organization operates. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions (as per above) to make sure that our program should continue. Then, we can begin sustainability planning. 

Read the next post in this series, Sustainability Planning Part Two: the Components of Community work.

References

1Heart Health Resource Centre, 1999. @heart: Heart Health Sustainability. Toronto, Ontario

2Office of Adolescent Health, 2014. Building Sustainable Programs: The Framework.

3Office of Adolescent Health, 2012. Build to Last: Planning Programmatic Sustainability.

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Join our “what successful partnerships do” series this September!

t HC Link we do a LOT of work supporting community partnerships. We’re finding that, more and more, people are working in partnership. That’s why we’ve developed this free series of webinars, consultations, workshops and resources to help you work more effectively in partnership.

Gillian and I began the series in June through a webinar in which we touched on key issues and strategies for building & maintaining successful partnerships. We then offered individual coaching sessions to help webinar participants apply their learning and identify next steps to strengthen their partnership skills.

This fall we will build upon our June webinar by moving into a more interactive stage. First, participants can use an online bulletin board to share what challenges or questions they currently face when dealing with partnerships. Then on Sept 26th, Gillian & I will host an interactive learning exchange that is completely customized to address the questions and concerns registrants sent in earlier in September. 

 

To sign up & ask your questions, click here.

 

What you can expect from this learning exchange:

  • Structured conversation lead by HC Link staff
  • Expert advice and opinion by contributors
  • A chance to build upon the ideas and challenges you face
  • Discussion on how to apply the 6 Key Activities for dynamic and effective partnerships.

 

Following the learning exchange, you can sign up for coaching sessions with HC Link consultants. Your partnership can also request consultations and workshops to help you move forward and accomplish your goals.

 

Missed part 1 in June? No problem! Get up to by speed by watching the recording or by reading this handy 2-page recap in FR and EN, which covers the topics we touched upon in webinar such as:

 

  1. Challenges organizations face to maintain strong partnerships
  2. Insight on how to define and achieve common goals 
  3. Our 6 key activities on how to achieve dynamic and effective partnerships

 

Not sure how HC Link can help? Contact us to start a conversation and see where it leads. 

 

partnership serie logo M 2017

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Changing our Destiny: A Regional Gathering in Timiskaming

Every two years (alternating with our provincial conference), HC Link partners with local communities to design and deliver Regional Gatherings. This year, my colleague Stephanie Massot and I were lucky to work with a dynamic team in Timiskaming to hold a regional gathering there on January 11. The event was a partnership between HC Link, the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board and the City of Temiskaming Shores.

We formed a planning committee in the spring/summer of 2016, and over several months our event took shape. Planning Committee members included Dani Grenier-Ducharme, Tiffany Stowe and Melissa Boivin (District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board) Dan Lavigne (Timiskaming First Nation), Tina Sartoretto (Town of Cobalt), Sylvain Guilbeault (Timiskaming Child Care), Stephanie Masson and I (HC Link). We selected the title “Changing our Destiny: Building a vision for all our communities” to represent the desire to make decisions that affect Timiskaming in Timiskaming. It is a vibrant region, with industry, tourism, a great deal of natural beauty, and--in January--a great deal of snow!

The focus of the event was to create a space for conversation about working together collaboratively to form community hubs in Timiskaming. Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to dissuade attendance with a snowstorm, 78 people (including planning committee members) attended the gathering! Unfortunately due to cancellation of school buses, the youth that committee members had worked so hard to engage were not able to attend. We had representation from a wide variety of sectors, with a total of 15 different sectors represented. It would be impossible for me to pick just one highlight of the day, as each part of the day was a highlight for me! Instead, I’ll summarize the day for those of you who weren’t able to be there.

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High school art work from the Indigenous art class, graciously lent to us for the day

We began the day with a traditional smudge and pipe ceremony, drumming and song. Elder Philip Snr Gliddy  told us that these ceremonies show respect and help us start our gathering in a Good Way. Mayors Tina Sarteretto (one of our planning committee members) and Carman Kidd gave opening remarks and Dani Grenier-Ducharme, Children's Services Manager with the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board, was our fearless Master of Ceremonies for the day.

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Charles Cirtwell from the Northern Policy Institute gave a keynote address and spoke about how the North already does community hubs: people in the North have worked together in this way for hundreds of years.  Dr. Cirtwell advised us to have:

  • Flexible thinking: to not constrain the who, how and where of community hubs

  • Flexible funding: funding should promote collaboration, be used for transportation and technology, and as an incentive

  • Flexible doing: blend organizational objectives, knowledge and assets. The goal is for everyone to see that their mandate is being achieved, even if someone else is doing some or even all of the service delivery

Following Dr Cirtwell’s presentation, Stephanie Massot gave a short presentation on partnership and working collaboratively. Melissa Boivin, one of our planning committee members, then led the group in a “Merry-Go Round” exercise to give participants the chance to talk with each other about the ways they currently work together, the challenges and benefits they receive from their work.

I then led a panel discussion to find out how the community hub model is working in four different communities.

Carol McBride is the Director of Health and Social Services at Notre Dame du Nord, Temiskaming First Nation Health Centre. The centre has experienced significant growth from its beginnings in the 90s with 4 employees to its current staff complement of 35. Previously, the centre worked in silos, where people who accessed services did get help but not as much as they needed. When Carol learned about the community hub model, the centre transformed using the Medicine Wheel as its model, with the individual in the middle of the wheel and the Centre providing emotional, physical, mental and spiritual support.

Scirish Panipak is the Vice-President of the Friendship Centre in Parry Sound. That organization will be opening a “bricks and mortar” community hub, focused on community housing, in June. The organization was able to purchase a school to use for non-profit housing, and a priority for them was to keep the gymnasium to use for the community as well as clients and residents. They began to look for community partners to move into the space, and currently have more than they can hold!

Laura Urso from the Best Start Network in Sudbury shared her experiences in this long-standing network of service providers. The network began with agencies that provide like-services, and now they are programming and delivering services together. One of the keys to the success the network has experienced is the designation of a staff-person who is responsible for bringing--and keeping--stakeholders together.

Brent Cicchini is an officer with the Ontario Provincial Police (incidentally, the first time I’ve had a panelist who wore a bullet-proof vest) who has been working with a variety of community partners to address the needs of high-risk youth, with the aim of supporting them before they come into contact with the justice system. There is a good network of services and stakeholders, though meeting can be viewed as being redundant. Brent spoke about the idea of connecting with existing networks/tables, rather than constantly inventing new groups of the same people to talk about different things.

After lunch, Karen Pitre, Special Advisory to the Premier on Community Hubs, joined us via remote technology. Community hubs, explained Karen, are a service delivery model that brings together service providers to offer a range of services that respond to demonstrated community needs and priorities. As our four panelists demonstrated, there is no one formula for a community hub: they can be a bricks and mortar building, a “virtual” hub or a group of service providers working together. There could be as many variations of what a community hub as there are communities in Ontario. One of the key components of a community hub is that they are cross-sectoral, bringing together education and training, health care, children and youth, sport and recreation, social services and a variety of other community partners together.

communityhub

Following Karen’s presentation, participants formed small groups in a Conversation Café designed to help the group discuss how they can work together, in partnership, to support community wellbeing in Timiskaming. The group had a robust discussion, with a group who discussed Indigenous health committing to meet monthly after the gathering to continue their conversation!

It would take me at least another two pages to talk fully about the incredible experience that Stephanie and I had in Timiskaming and the wonderful things about the Regional Gathering itself. We had such a rich experience in working with our planning committee members, our event partners, and our event sponsors Northern College and Presidents Suites. Aside from the experience of being in the north and being at the event itself, another highlight was the excursion to Dani’s farm, where Stephanie rode a horse and I collected eggs. The beauty of the scenery, the warmth of the people, and their dedication to working together will be in my memory for a long time.

You can access the slide decks, videos from the presentations and panel, and more at http://www.hclinkontario.ca/events/regional-gatherings.html/#Timiskaming

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What should we do? Reflections from the Vision Zero Summit

 

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’sVision Zero Summiton November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’sVision Zeroapproach andParachute’s Canadianapproach.

Part of the afternoon session at the Vision Zero Summit was a panel discussion called “Vision Zero in Action”. The panel included speakers from Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto and focussed on what each city is doing towards realizing Vision Zero. One of the panelists was Greg Hart from Safer Calgary. Greg’s perspective was an interesting one as Safer Calgary is not part of the municipality; rather they are an outside agency working with the city of Calgary.  The Safer Calgary coalition is an alliance of individuals and groups that have a common interest of decreasing the potential for preventable harm and death in the city of Calgary.

Greg began his presentation by reminding us (as many speakers have today) that distracted driving is a huge challenge on our roads. There are four states in the US where texting is legal- but in the rest of the states, bans on texting have not reduced the number of distracted driving charges and fatalities. Why is that? Greg says this is because of our tendency to blame individuals for their behaviour. “He should know better than to text and drive because he’ll get a ticket” or “she should look both ways before crossing the street or she’ll get into an accident”. Statements that involve the word “should”, says Greg, raise a red flag. This is because in our brains, should statements – which are statements about our behaviour- are connected to punishment, as in my two examples above. To which our brains say, “…if I get caught”. We think that we’ll evade capture, we’ll escape an accident, that our actions won’t kill someone. Because we believe that we are smarter than we are.

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The reality is that we’re not as smart as we think that we are. We think that we can pay attention all of the time, that we can multi-task and do all tasks equally well. This is not true. This is in part because of the role that our unconscious mind plays in our decision making. We make decisions based environmental cues that we’re not consciously processing.

Instead of thinking “should”, says Greg, we should rely on the design of our roads to guide the behaviour of the majority of road users, leaving enforcement for the 10% of underperforming road users. For example, Greg told us about an intersection in Calgary that had installed automatic ticketing, which resulted in $11 M in fines. There are two ways to view this: first that we take the money and fuel it into safety interventions or public transit etc. The second way is to realize that obviously, the intersection needs to be designed in such a way that $11 M dollars of laws are not broken. We need to create successful situations so that we criminalize fewer people and have fewer injuries and deaths.

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I am positive that I am not doing Greg enough justice with this summary of his presentation. And frankly, I wish he could have spoken for at least an hour! Please visit the Safer Calgary website to learn more.

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths
Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero
Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

Public Health and Vision Zero: What role do we have to play?

Working toward Zero—together

Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Websitehttp://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Parachute’s Vision Zero Websitehttp://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero



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Public Health and Vision Zero: What role do we have to play?

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

Today I’m live tweeting and blogging from Parachute’s Vision Zero Summit. It’s not quite 11 am but already I’m on fire for Vision Zero and everything that it stands for. In particular, I’m really reflecting on the role that public health can play within an initiative such as Vision Zero. Today’s conference opened with a video address by Dr Matts-Ake Belin from Sweden, where Vision Zero originates. Dr Belin proposed that public health and Vision Zero take opposite approaches: that public health starts with a problem that needs to be solved and applies intervention to address the problem, whereas Vision Zero starts with the vision of what needs to be achieved. Dr David Sleet, formerly from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and now a consultant, spoke about the role for public health in Vision Zero. Dr Sleet believes that traffic injuries and deaths are the number one public health issue of our time. Advances in road safety is listed as #10 on the CDC’s list of 10 Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.

Dr Sleet asked the audience who among us work in public health. While about 10 percent of the audience raised their hands, Dr Sleet told us that today, we all work in public health because what we are doing here at the Vision Zero Summit is public health’s mandate the save lives and prevent deaths. Dr Sleet proposes that public health approach road safety in the same way as we do infectious diseases- like infection disease on wheels- by bringing the epidemiological and education lenses that we apply to outbreaks such as e-coli and Zika. In fact public health has a history of initiatives that focus on reducing to zero, such as polio.
 
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While fellow panelist Ian Grossman from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators stated that one of the challenges in the US has been to form connections between those who work in road safety and public health, here in Ontario public health professionals are used to working intersectorally and making a difference in their communities.  While there is a role for public health, Dr Sleet stated that Vision Zero should be everyone’s vision and should involve every sector.

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero
 
Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Website http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/
Parachute’s Vision Zero Website http://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero
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Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

Vision Zero involves planning, designing and building roads and infrastructure to increase safety and reduce fatal accidents. Vision Zero believes that safety aspects must be built into the system and included when planning new infrastructure projects. The ultimate goal is to build roads and infrastructure that meet capacity and environmental challenges without compromising traffic safety.

In 2008, Montreal set a goal of reducing serious accidents by 40 per cent over 10 years. Between 2003 and 2015, the island of Montreal has seen the number of accidents causing injury or death drop by 26 per cent, to 5,203 accidents. In roughly the same period, the population has grown by four per cent, the number of cars by 12.5 per cent, and the number of people who cycle regularly has doubled, rising to 116,000 a day. Montreal’s Vision Zero plan pledges to:

  • expand photo radar speeding sectors to eight from the current five
  • reduce speed limits on certain main streets to 40 kilometres per hour
  • reduce limits on local roads to 30 km/h (where boroughs accept the change)
  • update traffic lights
  • further improve security measures at 57 of the city’s underpasses, in some cases by adding cycling lanes
  • mandate city standing committees to study the idea of prohibiting trucks of a certain size from driving in heavily populated areas, or limiting the hours when they can make deliveries
  • look into having reserved bus-taxi lanes that can also accommodate bicycles, which is presently illegal under the highway code in most cases
  • increase the number of bike boxes, putting cyclists ahead of vehicles at intersections; installing priority lights for cyclists; adding cycle lanes and boosting knowledge of the dangers of dooring.

What happens however, on existing streets, where these changes have yet to take affect? As a full-time cycle commuter in a large and busy city, I know what it’s like to bike in an environment that’s not built to keep me safe. At times like these, vulnerable road users take matters into their own hands to try to make the environment safer.

One of my favourite examples of this is Warren Huska, who Toronto cyclists have dubbed “Noodle Man” after media attention in Toronto and internationally. A year and a half ago Ontario introduced Bill 31, which requires drivers to keep at least 1 metre between the motor vehicle and the bicycle when passing cyclists on Ontario roads, where possible. Despite a $110 set fine and two demerit points, few motorists are following the law. Warren took the law into his own hands by attaching a pool noodle to the back of his bike, a visual representation of the 1 meterpassing law.  Effectively, Warren makes his own bike lane where there is no bike lane, resulting in motorists giving him the space the law requires. Warren’s desperate move has hit a nerve, as the 1 million + hits to the Toronto Star video showing Warren’s noodle hack attests. Warren hopes that his pool noodle will keep the conversation about cycling safety going and influence the thinking of motorists. Colin Browne, a spokesman for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, quoted in a Washington Post article about Warren,  says “it’s frustrating that we’re relying on hacks from cyclists when really it’s a driver behavior problem,” Browne said. “The law (in Washington) says to pass beyond three feet. You shouldn’t have to attach a pool noodle to the back of your bike to make people do that.”

Warren

Photo from the Toronto Star Toronto Star

This is where initiatives like Vision Zero should come in. If the built environment makes the safe choice the only choice, wouldn’t this increase the chances of everyone using roads safely? While Colin Brown applauds Huska’s homespun approach, he said cyclists really need more bike lanes and off-road trails, more physical buffers between them and cars, and better police enforcement of safe-passing laws.

I consulted my fellow cyclists to find out how they try to be safe when the built environment doesn’t support safe cycling. 

Many of them shared stories of being passed to closely by car drivers and lack of enforcement – or even awareness- of Bill 31 by police officers. Jess Spieker shared her terrifying story of being T-boned by a car driver at an intersection in an area that has no bicycle infrastructure. In addition to safer infrastructure, Jess is calling for a Vulnerable User Road Law which would have car drivers sentenced appropriately. 

Chloé Rose bikes through parks even though there are perfectly good (if more dangerous) roads beside said parks, or adding kilometers to her route because it's safer than going straight along an arterial road. Not only does this add time onto cycling journeys, this also directly impacts businesses located on main arterials who lose out on having cyclists as a customers. Other cyclists take advantage of flex hours, changing the times of day where they travel in order to avoid high traffic times.

Another unfortunate side effect of lack of safe infrastructure is that cyclists resort to “illegal” measures such as riding on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way down one way side streets (salmoning) because it feels safer. Says Toronto cyclist Gerry Brown “my belief in the ability of Vision Zero to reduce road injuries and deaths is because of its focus on design changes that will make people do that. I have very little faith in our ability to change behaviour with education and PR campaigns, but with sound and proven design changes we can make everyone safer.”

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Website http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Parachute’s Vision Zero Website http://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero

Montreal’s Vision Zero Plan https://mairedemontreal.ca/en/vision-zero-commitment-pedestrian-and-cyclist-safety

Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 website features a Road Safety Measures Database

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Why I’m SO EXCITED about Vision Zero

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach. 

On November 29th, my colleague Robyn Kalda and I will be attending Canada’s Vision Zero Summit in Toronto as part of the Social Media Team. We’ll be live tweeting and blogging away and sharing the learnings from this national conference. As health promoters, it makes sense that we’d believe that our roads should be safe for all road users: pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers/occupants. As proponents of healthy communities we believe in the many benefits that occur when people can walk, bike, roll and dance through their communities. So of course we love Vision Zero’s philosophy: that no one should be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system.

On a personal level though, I’m excited about Vision Zero because I want to live.

Yes, it may sound dramatic. And also, hopeful……because I am a vulnerable road user. I live in Toronto, where I am a full-time cycle commuter (10 months of the year) and daily pedestrian. The reality is, in the city that I live in, that the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths is just shy of the homicide rate. In the first 6 months of 2016, there were more than 1,000 cyclists and pedestrians hit on Toronto streets. I once met a Toronto cyclist that referred to her daily commute as “my daily meditation on death”. I do have at least one “OMG” moment every commute, and what I’d call a close call once or twice a week. Even as a pedestrian, I’m scared. One of the most dangerous parts of my regular walk to various errands is a pedestrian crossing- you know, the one with the flashing lights where, by law, car drivers and cyclists are supposed to stop and stay stopped until I’ve reached the sidewalk on the other side? I’m nearly struck by a car driver at least half of the occasions that I use that crossing.

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My sister and me (left) cycling on the Bloor Viaduct during Open Streets Toronto.

Given all of that, why do I risk my life every day just to move around the city? Well, I’ll bet you can guess some of the reasons. Cycling to work is more convenient and less costly that taking public transit. I get 40 minutes of physical activity every day just by going to work! I arrive at work flushed, with my blood pumping and brain working. It makes me smile to speed past the cars in traffic and whiz down hills. I recently purchased aBike Share membership and I giggle every time I’m on one of those bikes, they are so big and stable and Mary Poppins like. It’s amazing what cyclists will put up with just to get that daily dose of biking awesomeness. Once you try it, you will never go back.

That is also one of the challenges- getting people to try it. And one of the ways to get people to try cycling is to make it as safe and convenient as possible. That’s where Vision Zero comes in. One of the things that I love about Vision Zero is that it is a comprehensive approach that addresses:

  • Reducing impaired driving
  • Implementing safer speed limits
  • Increasing the use of seatbelts
  • Introducing safer car design
  • Improving road infrastructure
  • Enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety

In a Vision Zero community, there is advocacy for policy change, enhanced regulation, road infrastructure changes and information is provided about dangers of risk factors. The Vision Zero philosophy is one of shared responsibility between those that design the roads and those that use the roads.  The emphasis is on designing streets that result in the behaviour that you want to see, rather than simply trying to legislated and enforce behaviour change. By remembering that all road users are humans- and therefore make mistakes- we can engineer around mistakes and therefore avoid them.

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Screen capture from http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Vision Zero in Canada

Vision Zero began in Sweden, where it’s had astonishing success. Vision Zero is starting to make inroads in North America, including several Canadian cities:

In Toronto, the city’s Road Safety Plan includes the Vision Zero vision to reduce the number of road fatalities and serious injuries to zero, with an initial target of reducing fatalities by 20% by 2026. I hope that next week’s Vision Zero Summit will help to shift this target!

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

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Water Does Wonders in Humber-Downsview

HC Link is proud to be a part of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC) by supporting the 45 participating communities across Ontario. The current theme that HKCC communities are supporting right now is “Water Does Wonders”, which emphasizes choosing water over sugar sweetened beverages. Many of the communities are involved in activities that promote water consumption, such as providing refillable water bottles, community swims, and refill stations. In this post, Myriam Castilla, Local Project Manager for Toronto-Humber-Downsview, shares how they are incorporating Water Does Wonders into their local work.

I am eager to share with all of you one of the exciting Water does Wonders activities that is happening here in the Humber-Downsview community.

Annually, from the first week of July to the third week of August, the Youth Association for Academics Athletics and Character Education (YAAACE), runs a Summer Institute camp for 400 children from the Humber-Downsview community. Most of these children belong to the City of Toronto Neighborhood Investment Areas where a large amount of the population experiences high levels of inequity and poor health.

This year, in partnership with HKCC, YAAACE decided to adopt HKCC’s theme "Water does Wonders" as a main subject for their Summer Institute. The curriculum for this camp was developed to promote Water does Wonders message; 25 teachers were trained on HKCC’s objectives, principles, and strategies to promote water intake; and 50 youth staff were trained on water facts and strategies to promote healthy drink choices among children.

In addition, YAAACE adopted a Healthy Eating policy; which includes having servings of fruits and vegetables in their lunches and snacks, and that only tap water is available during camp’s activities. To re-enforce this message, all sugary drinks were removed from vending machines in their premises.

What is unique about YAAACE’s initiatives is that this community organization uses an innovative social inclusion model to support children and youth from low income communities to grow, learn and play in an environment that is responsive and supportive of their needs, interests, expectations, and aspirations. It offers access to programs that integrate academic, athletic, social and artistic activities through school, after school programs, weekend programs, and camps. 

YAAACE’s academic activities target students who fall below the provincial standards in literacy and in numeracy due to multiple factors, including exposure to violence or trauma. To ensure child success, with the support of mentors, YAAACE’s programs coordinate with children’s schools and caregivers.

We are thrilled because of the impact of the Summer Institute in this community; the key messages of Water does Wonders has been widely disseminated, and 400 children are receiving the messages in a culturally relevant form, and clearly changing their behavior towards enjoying drinking tap water and eating more fruits and vegetables.

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