Blog

Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

To view past blogs, please click on the home icon below left.

Kyley works for Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) and is the Project Coordinator, Communications for HC Link. In 2011, she received her Masters in Public Health, Health Promotion, at the University of Alberta. She has experience with community-based research, knowledge translation, evaluation, and social media.

Recap and resources of Social Media Clinic

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Last month, HC Link hosted an online webinar – Social Media Clinic: Trends, tools, and Peer sharing which was attended by over 30 participants. This webinar was intended for those who were currently using social media in their healthy communities work – and provided a presentation on social media trends and tools, and then allowed the opportunity for participants to ask specific questions and share their unique challenges and experiences.

Here is a snapshot of the social media experience of those who were in the virtual room:

smpool

Social media is not going away, and is not only being used by a select niche of tech savy individuals – social media is currently the number 1 reason people use the internet! (Something to Tweet About, Dentsu Aegis Network). So let's take a look at some of the information that was shared during the webinar:

Social Media Trends for 2014

We used this document from Social Media Today as a starting place for discussion:

  1. Social Media is no longer an option
    • Without it, you won't be seen
  2. Mobile growth
    • You need a website that works on mobile phones!
  3. Google + needs to be integrated into your social media
    • This trend was debatable – has potential, but currently low uptake
  4. Images and videos will be used MORE and MORE
    • One point to consider with video is local bandwidth, and whether groups in the North or other countries will have access to high speed internet
  5. Podcasts will continue to grow
    • While also debatable, it is part of our on demand society

Some notes about some of the major social media tools/platforms

SM tools image

 Facebook

  • Still the most popular social media platform – huge numbers of daily users
  • Good way to reach general public, although younger people are starting to veer away, as parents start joining
  • Two main things you can use for work are pages (that you create for your organization) and groups (which can be both public and private)
  • Most effective when used for things that have momentum, like campaigns, or if you are asking people to do things (post, share, donate, etc.)

Twitter

  • Very popular social media platform (second to Facebook)
  • Allows you to stay current – stay up to date and share information as you learn about it
  • Need to be interactive to be effective, and respond to tweets daily
  • Twitter chats are becoming increasingly popular and are a great way to connect with others working in/passionate about similar issues

YouTube

  • A lot of young people are using YouTube instead of TV
  • If you are working with the public and producing videos – you will need an account! If working with professionals, you may need to post videos somewhere else too (like website) since it is blocked from a lot of work spaces
  • Good for short, instructional videos – especially for seniors and people with low literacy
  • High quality videos are not important, as long as what you are saying is interesting!

Google +

  • Ties in really well with the rest of google – i.e. google drive, google hangouts, YouTube...
  • Google hangouts is a really neat feature, it allows you to do good quality video conferencing with up to 10 people, and you can share documents as well (sometimes buggy though). You can also broadcast your videos live on YouTube.
  • Low uptake right now

Instagram

  • Allows you to take photos and apply filters so that ordinary pictures look really neat
  • Demographic skews quite young
  • Using images to convey a story is becoming increasingly popular, and images are cross-cultural
  • Excellent way to produce your own images for print or online resources

Pinterest

  • The fastest growing social network
  • The average pin is more relevant than the average tweet (has a longer life than tweets)
  • Major audience is women ages 25-35, although demographic reach is expanding
  • Public health is starting to use Pinterest more – especially through using infographics
  • Pins don't need to be directly about your work, as long as you pin passions/interests of your organization – people will be led back to your organization and website

Tumblr

  • Free, super-easy way to blog (can share other blogs or create your own)
  • Quick way to get a content stream

Mobile Apps

  • As service providers, we need to spend some time in this mobile space and be aware of who is producing these apps and consider if they are reliable
  • We can help to evaluate what is out there (list some of the pros and cons to existing apps)
  • A lot of apps are used for behaviour change. You can produce your own with a budget

Other helpful tools discussed:

  • Dropbox – an easy way to share files with colleagues
  • Compfight – allows you to search for images that have creative commons copyright, to legally use in your work

The rest of the webinar was dedicated to discussing participants unique questions and challenges. If you have any social media related questions, feel free to contact Kyley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or request a consultation using our online request form or calling us at 416-847-1575 or toll free at 1-855-847-1575.

Resources from the clinic:

 

 

 

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BLOG DISCUSSION - How can the CIW improve quality of life in Ontario?

Thanks to everyone who participated in this online conversation - lots of ideas and valuable information was shared about how the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) can improve life in Ontario, and how organizations, health centres, municipalities, etc., can use the CIW in their work.

Day 1 of this discussion took place right here on our HC Link blog. There was a lot of engagement and openness to share, with 116 comments! You can read through all of the questions and ideas shared on the comment section of our blog or view a transcript of the conversation here.

Day 2 of this discussion took place online through Adobe Connect and teleconference, as we thought this platform would provide a more focused and attractive learning experience, given the high volume of comments and discussions. The recording of this discussion is available here.

Click here to read the highlights from the 2 day online discussion!

All resources and links shared from the discussion are posted on the HC Link website: http://www.hclinkontario.ca/index.php/events/slides-from-events.html/#CIW

This discussion was one of the first to come from AOHC's discussion paper: Measuring What Matters: How the Canadian Index of Wellbeing can improve quality of life in Ontario, and we hope that this dialogue continues.

Please feel free to post comments and continue this discussion on our HC Link blog.

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On April 15th and 16th, HC Link hosted the blog discussion "How can the CIW improve quality of life in Ontario?" led by AOHC.

This blog discussion was based upon AOHC's newly released discussion paper: Measuring What Matters: How the Canadian Index of Wellbeing can improve quality of life in Ontario.

measuring what matters

The paper outlines the ways the index's framework can be applied at the provincial, regional and local level to improve health and wellbeing. It also offers details about how the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is already being put into action by municipal governments, funders and a significant number of Ontario's Community Health Centres.

The paper's release and the province-wide conversation about the CIW that AOHC hopes to start, is timely: on April 29, with the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the CIW will be releasing its first Ontario composite index report. Tracking back to 1994, the report will provide baseline data with respect to all eight quality of life domains the CIW tracks. There will also be a single number that will indicate whether quality of life is better or worse overall in Ontario, since 1994.

The information offered in this paper, about how the CIW can be applied, is relevant to a wide range of players: frontline service providers, provincial and professional associations, Local Health Integration Networks, municipalities, the justice system, non-governmental organizations, public servants, political and opinion leaders, and people that are interested in the wellbeing of communities.

AOHC is inviting each of these audiences to review the paper and consider its central idea: that the CIW can serve as a powerful tool to kick start a more effective community health and wellbeing movement in Ontario.

Community Health and Wellbeing experts will be ready to answer your questions and hear your input on April 15th and 16th from 12-1pm.

Community Health and Wellbeing experts:

Margo Hilbrecht, Associate Director of Research, Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)
Linda McKessock, Project Manager, Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)
Cate Melito, Executive Director, Woodstock and Area Community Health Centre – CIW Pilot project
Mary MacNutt, Policy & Communications, Association of Ontario Health Centres
Gary Machan, Community Facilitator, AOHC - CIW pilot project
Louise Daw, Project Manager, Guelph Wellbeing, City of Guelph

To join the conversation, please enter a new comment (under "Leave your comment"), or reply directly to a comment (click "reply"). (tip- remember to keep refreshing your page to see the latest comments!) Also- please note that due to the number of comments - there are multiple pages of comments (please click next to see all of the pages). Also, when you enter a comment, please only enter your NAME (and email if you wish). There are technical difficulties arising when usernames are entered.

Postings are viewed as personal contributions, and do not reflect the positions of employers. Postings may be made anonymously - you may provide a name, pseudonym or initials. Please note that email addresses will not be made public.


Here are some questions to start the conversation:

  • What's your take on the potential of the CIW to improve health and wellbeing? How might it be applied to the challenges you or your organization are trying to address?
  • If you are already applying the CIW framework in your organization or community, and we haven't mentioned it in our paper, can you share this idea with us? And how would you like to "connect the dots" between what you are doing and other nearby regions or the province as whole?
  • Do you have an idea for a new way to use the CIW?
  • The CIW framework is constantly evolving and improving. Going forward, how could it be adapted or improved to be applied in different settings?
  • What are some of the ways we could all work together to build CIW communities of practice, at local, regional and the provincial level?
  • What can be done at the local, regional level to get ready for the release of the forthcoming CIW Ontario composite report?
  • Working together, can we use the CIW to build a strong effective community health and wellbeing movement in Ontario?
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HC Link's Exclusive Interview with Bob Gardner on Broad Scale Collaboration

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Bob Gardner, Director of Policy at the Wellesley Institute, sat down to chat with us about collaboration at our 2013 conference- Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change. In this short interview, Bob shares his tips on approaching inter-sectoral collaboration and making it more manageable.

In this interview Bob encourages us to make sense of complex challenges by building a collaborative around concrete and actionable items. He also cautions us not to worry too much about the lineup, because while it is important to hear from all of the big players, it is also important to hear from many diverse groups and different voices (including local residents). Including people from outside of the field (which he calls disruptive influences) will bring a different angle to the work and ensure you don't keep going down the same path.

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Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change - A participants' learning in review

By: Stephanie Harris, Women and HIV/AIDS Community Development Coordinator, Réseau ACCESS Network

When I was on my way to the Conference, I was prepared to be bringing home a lot of information but never expected to walk away with so many new tools that I could use in my work. The experience was absolutely amazing and I met so many fantastic people. For me, the main reason in attending the conference was to learn more about policy development through a health promotions lens. And boy did I!

I am at a point in my work where the development of policy around HIV is becoming evident and a necessary step forward in my community. Though I was mildly comfortable with the idea, I felt I needed more education and tools to move forward on this. Just gaining a better understanding of the "politics" around getting a policy into place would help.

In this conference, not only did I gain a better understanding of the processes in place for policy development, even better, I walked away with a greater knowledge on how to engage the right people and the proper language and actions to use in order to make policy happen. Though my work is not larger scale per se, as in it won't affect global change, it was still very important that I learn the steps to follow to ensure effective and sustainable policy.

I've made great connections, including meeting a nurse from Public Health Ontario who will assist me with some of my own research. I was able to have conversations with people (all of whom had various roles within their own communities) that I had never considered to speak to in my own community and through them have since been able to connect with a few key people in my own community to help move things forward in my work.

I walked away a better, more informed person and professional and for that I thank you very much. I wanted to attend this conference more than any other and am so thankful I got to participate!

Réseau ACCESS Network is a non-profit, community-based charitable organization, committed to promoting wellness, education, harm and risk reduction. Réseau ACCESS Network supports the individual and serves the whole community, including persons at risk, in a comprehensive/holistic approach to HIV/AIDS, HCV treatment and related health issues.

For more on HC Link's 2013 conference, you can check out our post-conference resource page

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HC Link's Exclusive Interview with Mary Lewis on Empowering Communities Towards Positive Change

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Mary Lewis, Vice President of Research and Knowledge Exchange for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, sat down to chat with us about empowering communities at our 2013 conference- Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change. In this short interview Mary shares key steps for empowering communities towards positive change and provides advice for leaders who want to make a difference.



In this interview Mary discusses three key steps towards empowering communities towards positive change. First, is to develop a shared vision that everyone can buy into. Second is to take that vision and think about it realistically within the political context. And third, is to identify a practical next step that the community can rally around and bring change about. Mary also stresses the importance of shared leadership. Some people are comfortable being out there in the public face, others are busy doing background work, but it is important to be respectful and appreciative of the contribution that everyone can make.

We want to thank Mary Lewis for sharing her time and experience with us. For more on Mary, please check out the presentation she gave at our 2013 conference:

"Empowering Communities"

 

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The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care announces new initiative in response to the Healthy Kids Panel

HC Link is excited to learn of the new initiative launched by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC), The Healthy Kids Community Challenge, to support the priority of Healthy Active Communities within the Ontario Healthy Kids Strategy. This program aligns very closely with HC Link's values and priorities; at the core, this program is about collaborating through partnerships, creating healthy communities (and in turn, children), and supporting health equity. What is particularly unique about this program is that the municipal government is the lead organization, a wide range of partners must be involved and a community champion must be identified. Read on to learn more about this opportunity.

HealthyKidsPicImage from: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/healthykids/

The Healthy Kids Community Challenge at a Glance

This is a community-led program, under the leadership of municipalities and coordination of the province, where partners from different sectors (e.g. public health, education, recreation, local business) work together to implement activities to promote healthy weights for kids. Program activities will be based on a specific theme (selected by the MOHLTC every 9 months based on best evidence of risk and protective factors) that is related to healthy eating, physical activity and adequate sleep (e.g. eating a healthy breakfast, active transportation, etc.).

For more information on this program and how you can apply (note – deadline is March 14, 2014), you can visit the MOHLTC website or read the Background and Guidelines to the Healthy Kids Community Challenge.

HC Link encourages you to look at this important program and think about the role that you can play to make this initiative a success. We look forward to supporting communities in meeting this challenge.

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Learnings from HC Link’s 2013 Conference: A Participant's Perspective

By: Zanita Lukezich, Evergreen

Attending HC Link's 2013 Conference, Collaborating for Change in November here in Toronto was a great opportunity to learn about new approaches in the field of community health promotion. It provided direct connections to our work here at Evergreen, with our outreach and partnership building programs for vulnerable and under-served communities.

The workshop that resonated most strongly with me was the session entitled, Turning Around Albert: One year towards a healthy public housing building, facilitated by Carol Zoulalian and Helen Cheung from Houselink Community Homes and Gautam Mukherjee from the Fred Victor Centre. They introduced the various inter-related issues that the residents face, living in Toronto's downtown eastside. From mental illness and social isolation to extreme poverty and vulnerability to crime, this community is on the periphery of our society. It is incredibly easy for residents of this community housing building to fall through the cracks, get evicted, and be one more person living on the streets.

turning around albert(Carol Zoulalian, Helen Cheung from Houselink and Gautam Mukherjee from the Fred Victor Centre)

They detailed the collaborative and inclusive approach to addressing these issues with the residents, and how good communication and having the same goals for the partners which included: a public housing landlord, supportive housing provider, community developer, a primary health care provider, and police services, can lead to a huge success for the entire community. They approach these complex issues with an 'eviction prevention' mindset and try to have the staff seen as champions of the tenants' well-being.

We know from the Social Determinants of Health that secure housing is a priority in order to provide safety and stability to individuals. Moreover, housing is the foundation on which an individual can build independence. It was inspiring to see the comprehensive, one-on-one support that was offered to residents who were suffering with addictions and mental health issues. The end result of this unique collaboration was better access to primary care opportunities for residents who often go without these fundamental services. Funded by the Toronto Central LHIN, this pilot project showcased that a community can be strengthened from within with the proper support.

This work taps into the potential within each person living in community housing, and recognizes the basic goodness therein. The transformation that took place at this address was groundbreaking, and it was a pleasure to see the dedication and commitment that these organizations utilized to reduce social isolation and ensure the success of this project.

This blog post was written by Zanita Lukezich, Senior Manager, National Programs for Evergreen. Evergreen is a national not-for-profit that inspires action to green cities.

All presentation slides and video recordings from HC Link's 2013 conference are posted in the Event Archive section of the HC Link website.

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HC Link’s Exclusive Interview with Tonya Surman on Becoming Innovative and Staying Motivated

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Tonya Surman, Founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation, sat down to chat with us about social innovation at our 2013 conference- Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change. In this short interview Tonya provides tips for organizations looking to become more innovative and reveals her secret to staying motivated.

In this interview Tonya asserts that creating safe, dedicated spaces for people to think outside of the box is critical for organizations looking to become more innovative. Also, on an individual level, becoming aware of how to NOT create your own mental blocks is important. When Tonya is asked about how realistic it is to create this time, when we are already so busy at work, Tonya replies "Everybody has the same time. It is not about time, it is about priority." People will find the time if they are motivated, and people will be motivated if the threat or opportunity is great enough. It is the role of the Community Animator to look for larger patterns and position issues as threats or opportunities to weave together social capital and motivate others to dedicate their time.

And on staying motivated? Well, small wins are hugely important. Oftentimes, we want to change the whole world now, but it is important to take on projects that are small enough to achieve in a reasonable amount of time, as this allows you to build trust and a track record in your community, which will allow you to take on more in the future.

We want to thank Tonya Surman for sharing her time, wisdom and ideas with us. For more on Tonya, please check out the presentation she gave at our 2013 conference:

"It's Up to Us: Collaboration, Social Innovation and our role as Community Animator"

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Building a case for Workplace Health & Wellness

By: Sara-Jane Linton

Educating employers on the importance of Workplace Health & Wellness initiatives is a passion for Sara-Jane. She actively researches and studies psychosocial issues and its impact on employee holistic (mind, body, emotional) health. Sara-Jane has extensive work experience as a Human Resources Professional working for both public and private sector.

Making the case:

The demand for workplace health & wellness has steadily grown over the years and employers have begun to recognize the need to invest into employee health and well-being. Implementation of Workplace Health & Wellness programs helps employers contain costs associated with employee health issues pertaining to mental, physical, emotional well-being and also educates employees on ways to incorporate sustainable health practices into their daily lives, developing a better sense of work life balance.

When building a case for workplace health & wellness programs employers must recognize the effect of daily stressors and multiple demands of family obligations and responsibilities of work employees face. Employees find themselves multi-tasking between the two resulting negatively on their health and quality of job performance. In addition to physical health a comprehensive workplace wellness program considers psychological safety factors such as office bullying and other forms of toxic work environments. Employers are beginning to understand legal liability of not providing psychological safe working environments and when implemented properly a workplace health & wellness program practices due diligence and encompasses both physical and emotional health critical to employee performance and productivity at work.

Workplace health & wellness programs demonstrate organizational commitment for the health and well-being of its employees, recognizing them to be the most valuable asset and positions the organization as socially responsible. An organization that invests money and time into the holistic health of its workforce reduces turnover, retains existing employees and makes itself very attractive to new talent as potential hires.

How to build:

A case for workplace health & wellness programs begins with employer and employees receiving the necessary tools needed to combat daily life stressors while enhancing a work life balance. The onus for better health within the organization belongs to both employers and employees and is not the sole responsibility of the workplace health & wellness program. Making better health practices a priority and aligning to the business strategy of the organization is a major step in building a case for workplace health & wellness program.

Employee surveys and questionnaires provides the opportunity to give opinions and shed light on what they believe to be underlying health issues systemic within the organization. This will help to identify, define and measure primary health risk factors and establish targets on how to address health issues. Employee involvement before, during and after the implementation of a workplace health & wellness program is critical as it allows them to act as subject matter experts placing them into the role of advisory ensuring health concerns and access to the program encompasses the entire organization. Obtaining feedback of the wellness program, what works or needs improvement, keeps employees engaged and ensures the program remains the active responsibility of employees and does not become dormant. Senior management must buy into the importance of workplace health & wellness programs and demonstrate this with visible participation and providing the organization with consistent and concise communication endorsing workplace health & wellness as organizational norm otherwise employees will not see the value in the program and become disengaged.

Examples of a Workplace Wellness Program:

Common areas of concern for employees are overwhelming job duties, prolonged stress and long work hours just to name a few. Workplace Wellness Programs need to be comprehensive, tailored to the specific needs and wants of employees and as a result will differ with every organization; there is no one size fits all. One approach is to research similar organizations within the same industry as reference for compatible ideas and suggestions for your own organization. The options are endless when creating a Workplace Wellness Program, and it does not require an extensive budget, just creativity. Here are few simple suggestions:

• Wellness Committees
• Wellness Fairs
• Volunteering within the community
• Healthy Food options at work,
• Physical activity while at work

Success of wellness programs depends on the input and involvement of employees and organizational leaders.

Conclusion:

Happy employees are engaged with their work, and engaged employees are happy to be at work. Workplace health & wellness programs mean different things for different organizations but a targeted, integrated and comprehensive program will always see the most significant returns on investment. Challenges faced by any wellness program are design, maintenance and making the program attractive so employees will want to continuously participate. A successful wellness program is nurtured by employees so healthy behaviours remain long enough in the organization becoming habit forming and consistently evolves overtime ensuring long-term success. The goal when building a case for workplace health & wellness is educating the entire organization on healthy lifestyle choice and behaviours leading to a happy sustainable workforce.

Helpful resources:

Workplace Health Fact Sheet, Health Canada 2013

The Business Case for a Healthy Workplace, IAPA (Industrial Accident Prevention Association) 2008

Creating Healthy Workplaces, IAPA 2006

 

 

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Linking for Healthy Communities 2013 Conference Recap by Andrea Zeelie-Varga

By Andrea Zeelie-Varga, Parent Action on Drugs


My head is still spinning from Collaborating for Change! Two days, jam packed with formal presentations, structured networking activities, and informal learnings from colleagues has energized and inspired me so!

hands up conference

One of my favourite aspects of this conference was the ability for each attendee to tailor the event to their interests. Numerous breakout sessions allowed me to spend time in sessions that were directly related the work that I do – but also the chance to indulge myself and catch up on other areas of "healthy communities."

I loved how this conference was partially bilingual and offered simultaneous interpretation services – which provided a seamless way for both Anglophones and Francophones to take full advantage of the program. A live streaming option for all of the keynotes and half of the workshops was also available to make this conference more accessible (geographically and financially).

Day one kicked off with an inspiring keynote presentation from Tonya Surman, the maven behind the Centre for Social Innovation. I spent time interning for a small charity in the Spadina location during my undergraduate degree, and fell in love with the concept for the shared space. I'm not at all surprised to see it grow to two more spaces in the city, and one across the border. I enjoyed hearing more about the centre's humble beginnings and how it's grown into a real bed for collaboration. Tonya spoke about how the CSI's community animators where inspired by Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition!

tonyaspeaking
The keynote was followed by a panel on Community Animators in Action. Health Nexus' Barb Willet, Human Endeavours' Noor Din and the Wellesley Institute's Bob Gardner all shared their experiences with collaboration and innovation in building healthy communities.

I attended the Healthy School Panel: Approaches from across Ontario, which included four very different perspectives on healthy school initiatives. In short, partnerships are key but all involved should have an interest in the initiatives. Initiatives would be more successful if these interests were aligned, so that real action could be taken. Youth should be involved in the process. Evidence helps schools understand what is happening and make decisions about how to proceed.

Concurrently, workshops were held on topics like mental health and gardening, community engagement, and creating public spaces.

workshop


My last session for the day was about engaging youth in substance misuse, and was partially facilitated by two teenagers. Celeste Auger Proulx spoke about programming with Peer Power, sharing a number of creative ideas. Kerri Kightley and Meagan La Plante, from the Peterborough Drug Strategy, shared some examples of their work with youth (including some programs developed by Parent Action on Drugs!). Kerri spoke about the drug strategy's collaborative approach and their success in engaging stakeholders working in prevention, harm reduction, treatment and enforcement.

Sessions on de-mystifying policy, shaping healthy neighbourhoods, rethinking poverty, housing, and resiliency were other workshop options.

Day two opened with an engaging and eye-opening presentation by Francious Boileau, the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario. He spoke about how vulnerable groups (such as Francophones in Ontario) oftentimes won't complain because they are intimidated or worried about negative repercussions, and how we should adapt our services to focus on these populations. His keynote was followed by one of my favourite activities of the conference: the community minute. Conference participants were encouraged to share some of their projects, programs, struggles or successes, and to ask others for comment. Fascinating to hear all the different sides involved in building healthier communities!

communityminuteconference
The morning workshops included sessions on food programs and networks, rights-based approach to working with persons with disabilities, and by-law development. I attended Paul Young's session on building environmentally and socially healthier communities, full of examples of what communities are doing across Ontario. I am finding myself increasingly interested in the built-environment and the health impacts of car-dependent communities and this session scratched my itch to learn more. (I'd love to get my hands on some of the stats Paul presented, and write a blog post solely on this presentation!)

The last workshops for the day were about the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, co-creating community change, tri-sector integration, with a panel on policy work. The day rounded out with a keynote presentation from Mary Lewis from the Heart and Stroke Foundation which served as a reminder about the influential role of advocacy.

quiltpapers
HC Link's own Jeff Kohl closed the two-day conference with a spirited song summarizing some shared learnings. Jeff sung out tweets about the conference, and participant comments from our co-created paper quilt. A wonderfully creative closing to an engaging two-day boot camp of learning and networking. I can't wait for Linking for Healthy Communities 2015!

You can check out the full conference program here to learn more about the workshops and presenters that were at the 2013 conference Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change.

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A Rights-based Approach to Engaging & Working with Clients & Communities of Persons with Disabilities

Laurie Letheren and Yedida Zalik from ARCH Disability Law Centre will be presenting a workshop titled "A Rights-based Approach to Engaging & Working with Clients & Communities of Persons with Disabilities" at the Linking for Healthy Communities conference on November 13th!

This workshop will be relevant to everyone working in healthy communities because as Laurie says in the video clip below - "Whether you realize it or not, we all serve people with disabilities in our work."

Check out this video below to find out more about what Laurie and Yedida will be talking about at HC Link's conference! (and remember, registration closes Friday November 1st!) - You can register here

 

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Highlighting the keynote speakers for our 2013 Linking for Healthy Communities Conference!

In anticipation of our 2013 conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change, we wanted to take this time to highlight our keynote speakers – Tonya Surman, François Boileau and Mark Holland.

Don't forget, registration for the HC Link conference closes THIS FRIDAY (November 1st). Register here


TONYA SURMAN   Founding Executive Director and CEO, Centre for Social Innovation
It's Up to Us: Collaboration, Social Innovation and our role as Community Animator

In her keynote address, Tonya Surman will inspire and delight as she explores how citizens are changing the world, how Community Animation is central to this work, and how, when we bring our passion and agency to the change we want to see, anything is possible.

Leveraging the power of Social Innovation, Tonya will reflect on the role of Community Animators to change the world.

smallsurmanTonya Surman is a social entrepreneur, community animator and network choreographer with a passion for bringing life to world-changing projects. Tonya is the founding executive director and CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation which catalyzes and inspires social innovation in Toronto and around the world. Tonya's work fundamentally embodies collaboration, entrepreneurship and systems change. Tonya has been creating and leading social ventures since 1987, and has built her body of knowledge around multi-sectoral collaboration and entrepreneurship for social change.

 

FRANÇOIS BOILEAU   French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario
Because Vulnerable Populations Will Never Complain

Ontario is home to many minority groups whether they are visible or not. These groups, including Francophones, must often assert themselves to claim their place in society.

Commissioner Boileau will remind us why we have to adapt our services to serve these vulnerable populations, such as children, seniors, people with mental health challenges and immigrants. He will also underline that many individuals hesitate to assert their right because they feel intimidated or worry such a request could bring about negative repercussions. For this reason we have to focus our efforts on "people that will never make a complaint because they are already in a vulnerable state of mind, so they're not confronting the administration."

In his presentation, he will also point out the first steps organizations should make in order to actively offer services to vulnerable populations and the importance of partnership and collaboration.

Francoisblog
Mr. François Boileau is currently pursuing his third mandate as French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario. Since his appointment, Commissioner Boileau has worked to improve the quality of French-language services in Ontario in order to meet the needs of the Francophone community, ensure its full development, and preserve its culture.

MARK HOLLAND   Director, Health Promotion and Public Affairs, Heart and Stroke Foundation (Ontario)
How to Empower Communities Toward Positive Change

Advocacy is a lever through which we can influence public policy as well as community and corporate behaviour. Mark will demonstrate how advocacy can influence governmental public policy and ultimately aims to promote action on legislative, regulatory, program spending and public awareness initiatives at the local, provincial and national levels. The mobilization of communities to a cause strengthens the 'ask' and the level of engagement and commitment.

Having first-hand experience as a decision-maker, an elected MP and Council member, Mark will reflect on practical and impactful approaches to gain attention and make your ask a top priority on elected officials' busy agendas.

MarkHolland

Mark Holland is the Director, Health Promotion and Public Affairs for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Ontario. He manages a portfolio which encompasses advocacy, the Health Promotion, Resuscitation, Public Affairs and Heart Health Children and Youth teams as well as community and health partnerships.

Prior to joining Foundation in 2011, Mark was the Member for Parliament for the riding of Ajax-Pickering from 2004 until May 2011. Previously, Mark served on the Durham and Pickering councils both as a Councillor and acting Mayor of Pickering.

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Harnessing the Power of Public Spaces: 8-80 Cities and their Make a Place for People Project

By: Alyssa Bird, 8-80 Cities

8-80 Cities is a non-profit organization based on a simple concept: if you build a city that's great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you build a city that's great for everyone. They specialize in transforming cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. This was the premise of their "Make a Place for People Project."

On November 12th, 8-80 Cities will be hosting a workshop at the HC Link conference - Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change, about their Make a Place for People Project that endeavoured to transform eight public spaces into healthier community places. These eight sites –from alleyways to parks to public squares - were selected to participate and undergo an intensive problem-diagnosis in conjunction with a creative community engagement process with the goal of re-imagining the potential of these public spaces.

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Public spaces play a vital role in our communities - they create nodes where people meet, relax and play. Yet many in Ontario are under-performing. Harnessing the potential of public spaces is the low-hanging fruit in times when there isn't the funding to build new recreation centres or swimming pools. Parks, streets, and other public spaces can be incredibly valuable in the promotion of healthy active lifestyles with the proper management, design, and programming.

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At the 8-80 Cites' workshop at the HC Link conference, you'll get to learn the components to creating an active and health promoting public space. In addition you'll receive an overview of the various tools used through the course of the Make a Place for People Project including innovative public engagement activities and site observation techniques. This presentation will also serve as a forum for conversation about challenges and opportunities faced in each case as well as how our unique engagement and evaluation tools contributed to the success of these projects. Hopefully it will inspire you to harness the power of public spaces in your community!

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What’s with the CN Tower being lit green and white on September 25th?

By: Estelle Duchon, HC Link

TOur CN(Photo Michelle Siu/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

 

No, the CN Tower won't be decked out in green and white for St. Patrick's Day or a Dallas Stars win; in 2010, September 25th was declared Franco-Ontarian Day after a unanimous decision in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. This date celebrates the contribution of Ontario's francophone community within the province's cultural, historical, social, economic and political activities.

Did you know...?

• September 25th is the anniversary of the first Franco-Ontarian flag rising in 1975.
• 2010 marks the 400th anniversary of French presence in Ontario.
• About 600,000 francophones live in Ontario, the largest francophone community outside Quebec.

"Franco-Ontarians of all origins now have a day to gather and celebrate the French presence in Ontario. September 25 will be an annual occasion to pay tribute to the Francophone community's exceptional contribution to Ontario's history and future."
Madeleine Meilleur
Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

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The flag's green half represents summer and the white, winter; together, the colours reflect Ontario's climatic diversity. The lys (lily) symbolizes francophonie throughout the world, while the trillium is Ontario's official flower.

As we near September 25th, HC Link is especially proud to offer services in both French and English and contribute to creating dynamic and healthy francophone communities.

Did you know…?

 

·         September 25 is the anniversary of the first Franco-Ontarian flag rising in 1975.

·         2010 marks the 400th anniversary of French presence in Ontario.

·         About 600,000 francophones live in Ontario, the largest francophone community outside Quebec.

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Tonya Surman is the keynote speaker at our 2013 Conference!

We, at HC Link, are very excited to have Tonya Surman, Co-Founder of The Centre for Social Innovation, as the Keynote speaker at our upcoming conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change!

image of Tonya SurmanTonya is passionate about collaboration. In a talk on the “Science of Collaboration” she declares she is “enraged by the inability of [those working towards social good] to collaborate” and “by our absolute desire for change but complete inability to get it together to make the change.”  As such, she has dedicated her life to coming up with new ways, new models and new strategies to get beyond our self-interests, to a place where we can identify converging interests which will leverage social innovation.


You might ask, what is social innovation? As defined by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), a social innovation is a new idea that has been put into practice for the public good. The CSI is a perfect example of this.


The CSI is a co-working space, community centre and incubator for people who are changing the world. The centre creates converging spaces for collaboration; it is an ecosystem made up of different types of people (over 200 organizations) who are able to share ideas, build networks and collaborate with each other.


For more on Tonya Surman and the Centre for Social Innovation, please check out the following:

Centre for Social Innovation website
Tonya’s biography and videos of select talks she has done

For more information about our 2013 conference- Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change, please check out our conference webpage. Registration for our conference is now open! Don’t delay because our reduced early-bird rate ends August 30th.  Click here to register.

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March 6th Webinar- The CAPTURE Platform: Communities sharing knowledge gained through local initiatives

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

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On March 6th, Dayna Albert, who works for CAPTURE as Manager of Practitioner Engagement, led a webinar hosted by HC Link on the CAPTURE Platform.

Over 45 participants who were eager to learn more about the CAPTURE platform- a freely accessible web-based repository for finding and sharing practice-based evidence in health promotion and chronic disease prevention, attended the webinar. This was the first time that I had heard of this platform, and was very impressed with this tool and the value it could bring to health promotion organizations. I thought about how this tool could be really helpful in sharing the work of healthy communities partnerships as well as local and regional groups. So, for those of you who did not attend the webinar, here is a brief summary of what was covered and how your work may benefit from this.

The CAPTURE platform allows you to find information and learn from health promotion and chronic disease prevention interventions (programs, projects, etc.) that are in the planning stage, in progress, or that have already been fully implemented. You can access information on approaches, activities, and lessons learned, and read information about the context and target populations of these interventions, to help you determine which are relevant and appropriate to your work.

Not only can you benefit from learning about other work being done in Canada (and in fact, across the globe), you can also benefit by entering interventions into the platform that you have been involved in. This tool provides the space for you to document your work, and asks you valuable questions that allow you to reflect on your learnings. Oftentimes we don't know what we know, until we start to talk about it and share our experiences and then we realize the knowledge we have actually gained. Another benefit for many groups is that this can be used as a tool in your knowledge exchange plan, often a requirement from funders.

Another neat feature of this platform, is that when you enter in an intervention, you can decide whether you want to just keep this information to yourself (and benefit from documenting and reflecting on your intervention), whether you want to share this information with colleagues and partners that you can invite to view or edit your intervention, or whether you want to share this information with everyone (which allows the most people to benefit).

One important question that came up in the webinar was, "How is this platform different than the Public Health Agency of Canada's Best Practice Portal?" With the Best Practice Portal, interventions must meet rigorous criteria and have undergone extensive evaluation, meaning that the interventions discussed have already been fully implemented. The CAPTURE platform allows information to be shared on an on-going basis so that useful information can be accessed in real-time and also allows interventions who may not have the resources to be rigorously evaluated to still share helpful information in the form of promising practices, as opposed to best practices.

This webinar concluded with information on how to participate in CAPTURE's 10-minute challenge. By contributing your program information to CAPTURE, either by filling out a 10-minute Challenge Entry Form, or by accessing the platform directly to enter an intervention, you have the opportunity to win an iPad 2. The deadline for this challenge is March 15th, 2012.

Learn more about the CAPTURE project

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Fostering Resiliency in Children and Youth

Submitted by CAMH Resource Centre and Parent Action on Drugs (PAD)

Imagine two rubber balls: The first ball is properly inflated with no holes or cracks. If you throw it against a wall it makes a loud BOING!! and returns with the same force that you threw it with. Now imagine throwing a rubber ball that is partially deflated due to a small crack, allowing air to seep out of it slowly over time. If you throw that ball against the wall, it makes a dull thud and lands only a few feet from the wall. It might roll back to you but it will take much longer than the first ball. "Resilience involves being able to recover from difficulties or change – to function as well as before and then move forward. Many refer to this as "bouncing back" from difficulties or challenges" (CAMH, 2009).

When we – as parents, caregivers, service providers and communities – foster resilience in children and youth, we are helping that rubber ball stay inflated. Building protective factors makes sure those holes and cracks are fixed so that young people can face life challenges and bounce back.

Resiliency has been steadily gaining attention as an important aspect of mental health promotion/mental well-being for children and youth by health professionals, researchers, government ministries and programs (including the Healthy Communities Fund grant program). As an important aspect of mental well-being, promoting resilience in individuals and communities is an essential component for all mental health promotion programming. Although individuals across the life spectrum benefit from improved resilience, children and youth are particularly vulnerable to risk factors that may affect their ability to respond to adversity and stress.

There are a number of excellent resources on resilience that can help Healthy Communities and public health stakeholders (e.g.: health promoters, educators, programmers, planners, etc.) better understand and integrate strategies to promote resiliency in children and youth in mental health promotion programming.

Growing up Resilient: Ways to build resilience in children and youth, written by Drs. Tatyana Barankin and Nazilla Khanlou (CAMH, 2009), reviews the latest research and developments on resilience in children and youth in a way that is relevant for a diverse audience. This resource considers the development of resilience and risk and protective factors that affect young people at three levels:

  • Individual factors: temperament, learning strengths, feelings and emotions, self-concept, ways of thinking, adaptive skills, social skills and physical health
  • Family factors: attachment, communication, family structure, parent relations, parenting style, sibling relations, parents' health and support outside the family
  • Environmental factors: inclusion (gender, culture), social conditions (socio-economic situation, media influences), access (education, health) and involvement. Tips on how to build resilience in children and youth follow each section.

Building Resilient Youth: Practical Tips for Helping your Teen Make Healthy Choices (PAD, 2011), is a brochure from Parent Action on Drugs aimed at parents and other significant adults in the lives of adolescents. It also addresses the individual, family and community risk factors that challenge youth, and gives specific tips on how to increase the protective factors in these areas. The brochure addresses substance use, mental health, gambling, internet gaming and gangs specifically. It is available for public health, education and other community workers to distribute to their parent audiences.

In partnership with HC Link, PAD and the CAMH resource centre is offering these resources free of charge. (Please see details below*).

For more information on each resource please click on the links below:

Growing up Resilient: Ways to build resilience in children and youth (CAMH): http://www.camh.net/Publications/Resources_for_Professionals/Growing_Resilient/index.html

Building Resilient Youth: Practical tips for helping your teen make healthy choices (PAD): http://www.parentactionondrugs.org/resources.php

*To receive these complimentary resources (shipping included), please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line: "Resiliency Resources". Please note that this offer is only available to those working in Ontario. Due to limited quantities, this offer is available on a first-come-first-serve basis with a limit of one complimentary copy per organization. Please include the following information in the body of your email: 1. Your name; 2. Occupation; 3. Organization; 4. Complete mailing address, phone number and email address.

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Highlights and Interpretation of the Resource - Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts

By Kyley Alderson

Resource- Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts (Mikkonen, J. & Raphael, D., 2010)

Overview of this document:

This document promotes awareness about the health inequities that exist here, in Canada. It explains various factors present in our society, and how exactly they contribute to poor health (i.e. the Social Determinants of Health). For each of these determinants, statistics are given to compare how Canada is doing compared to the rest of the developed Nations. As well, public policies are suggested for how we can begin to improve our health. These policies focus on the source of the problems (such as living conditions) rather than just dealing with the symptoms, which is where we usually tend to focus (such as diet and exercise, or chronic disease management). This document not only shows how important policy decisions are for our heath, it also emphases that it is up to us, as Canadian citizens, to remain informed on how these policies affect our health, and how to support candidates of political parties that are receptive to this.

As such, this resource is intended to act as an agent for political change, by informing and encouraging the general public to act on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). If you have time to read the full document, I highly recommend it, especially if you are not familiar with the SDOH. However, if you are like most people and don’t have time, here is a brief summary I have pulled together.

Also, here is a diagram I created on the major policy implications suggested in this document as ways to improve the impact of the SDOH. Increasing minimum wage and social assistance programs affect all of the SDOH, but there are also policy implications more related to specific determinants:

 

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In this document, I was surprised to read that:

  • While Canada is one of the biggest spenders in health care, we have one of the worst records in providing an effective social safety net. How much sense does it make to spend all of our money on treating illnesses, when we send people back to the same conditions that made them sick? Furthermore, why not spend more money on trying to prevent illness in the first place?
  • Canada is even worse than the United States on supporting childcare and early childhood education. On a list of the 25 wealthiest developed Nations, Canada ranks 24th out of 25 Nations on public expenditures on Childcare and Early Educational Services, whereas the US ranks 16th. There is a strong relationship between a parents socioeconomic status and their children’s developmental outcomes, and one way to weaken this relationship would be to provide high quality early childhood education regardless of a parents wealth.

I think most Canadians are not aware that:

  • Social exclusion (specific groups being denied the opportunity to participate in Canadian life) is a big reality in our society today. Excluded groups in Canada (listed by Mikkonen and Raphael) include Aboriginal Canadians, Canadians of colour, recent immigrants, women, and people with disabilities. We can see social exclusion in our society by the segregation of these groups into certain neighborhoods, as well as disproportionate unemployment rates, and employment in lower-income sectors and occupations for these populations. This document contains shocking statistics on the importance of gender, race, and Aboriginal Status on average income:
    • Women tend to earn less than man regardless of occupation. Men working in management earn an average of $1261 per week and women $956.

    • The average income for all Canadian men is $36,800, compared to the average income for men in the Haitian community is $21,595.

    • The average income of an Aboriginal man is only 58% of the average income of a non-Aboriginal man.

An important consideration this document highlights:

  • The manner by which some social determinants influence the population’s health is shaped by our current public policies, and therefore the SDOH are not going to be the same for all countries. For example, if adequate income and necessary services, such as childcare, were provided to all in Canada, the health threatening effects of education would be much less.

Now what?

Unfortunately, the people most affected by the SDOH, generally, have the least amount of power in society, and their voice is not the one being heard by most political leaders. It is up to all of us to put health on the political agenda. One can’t simply blame political parties for their decisions when these decisions are based on the values of Canadians who elected them in the first place. We must demand that elected representatives commit themselves to address these issues, and that we elect those who will promote the health of Canadians through Healthy Public Policy. After all, it is not just the health of those with the least amount of resources that will be improved; everyone’s health improves when the gap in health disparities is reduced.

However, the people who hold the majority of power in society and who may not understand the social determinants of health, most likely are not reading this document. I only heard about this document through a health promotion listserv that I am on. So, the question remains, how do we get this information out to those who currently don’t understand the impact of the SDOH, and how do we convey to certain populations (who may not be adversely affected by the SDOH) to still get involved in these discussions? Furthermore, how do we get those who may not currently be holding the power in society to get involved in these discussions? How do we switch the thinking of the greater population from an ideology of individualism to one of cohesion and solidarity?

Lastly, I would like to mention that this document shed light on many of the things Canada is doing wrong, however, I hope there are some indicators related to the SDOH that Canada is not ranking so poorly on compared to other developed Nations. While sharing the negative may get some people heated and ready to act, we must make sure to focus on the strengths of Canada’s heath and public policies as well, so that we have a good place to begin working from, and can leverage support that way.

I welcome any comments and would love to discuss this further with you!

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