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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!

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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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Safe BBQing techniques to enjoy a healthy Labour Day weekend

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With labour day just around the corner, I wanted to share with you some basic rules for food safety in meal preparation that was shared on on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.

According to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins and Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, reminding Ontarians of proper food preparations is key to avoiding food born illnesses.

In the summertime, food poisoning increases due to more people preparing food on the grill, defrosting raw meats like burgers, and making more salads on flat surfaces. To avoiding cross contamination and food poisoning, follow these simple rules.

Clean you hands often when preparing meals, clean surfaces and utensils with soapy warm water. Bacteria loves getting onto hands and in cutting boards, kitchen ware, cloths, knives, etc.

Keep raw meat separated from ready to eat foods like veggies, fruits, breads, and salads. Keep the separate both when you’re preparing them and as you store them.

Thoroughly cook all your food, especially meats and poultry but also veggies if you’re cooking them on the safe grill.

Keep food and leftovers in the fridge and get groceries into the fridge within 2 hours of purchasing them - especially for meat, poultry and dairy products.

To ensure you’re following the guidelines above, you can take some extra precautions such as:

Using a food thermometer to test the temperature of your food as it cooks.

Never keeping food at room temperature for more than 2 hours

Don’t defrost your meat on countertops, rather keep it in a container and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator or under cold water in the sink.

Keep packaging of your meat firm and tight, even double bag it to be sure no juice will leak onto your ready to eat foods.

Follow cooking instructions accordingly to make sure you’re preparing your food correctly and safely.

Following these tips can help you avoid the unfortunately symptoms of food poisoning that can range from mild to severe. If you do become ill and suspect food poisoning, consult a physician or go to your nearest hospital for urgent care if symptoms appear severe. By following these rules above, however, you should significantly decrease your chances of becoming ill due to food poisoning.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend !

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Activating Your Conference

 

We, at Ophea’s Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC), are excited to be the physical activity partner for the 2017 HC Link Conference,  Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone.

As we draw nearer to the conference, we got to thinking about some ways that have helped us be more active at past conferences and events. Here are 5 tips to get active throughout the conference:

1. Take advantage of active breaks and opportunities throughout the event.

Ophea, through PARC will be offering energizers and active movement options through this exciting two-day conference. Come prepared to move! 

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2. Use the standing tables or open space to move and/or stand during the conference sessions.

HC Link will provide standing tables in the main conference space and these can be used to change your movement patterns!

3. Ensure you include movement between sessions.

Whether this is taking the long way around the conference setting, or changing the movement pattern (ex. skipping, rolling, etc.) to get from lunch to the keynote, making the most of the transition times and breaks can mean more physical activity!

4. Participate in the active opportunities before and after the conference.

Moving before and after the conference can also ensure a well rounded day, provide you an opportunity to meet and network with others and keep you refreshed for the sessions. If you will be staying over, this could include accessing the Wellness Center which includes a Fitness room, accessible 24 hours a day with your guest room key, or the pool area, which is open Monday – Friday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

5. Make the most of the lunch break.

The BMO Institute for Learning has green space available if you would like to go for a walk or roll, if the weather is not ideal, you could also move around the building to keep the blood flowing.

You can also check out the PARC Blog, Energizer: Conference Setting for some additional ideas if you are planning your own conference or event!  If you have suggestions to share, feel free to Tweet us @parcontario. We would love to hear from you!

We look forward to moving with you at the 2017 HC Link Conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone!

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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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