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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.

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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.

cycling

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.

visionzero

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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Vision Zero: No more road deaths

What's more important: letting cars move quickly, or keeping everyone (inside and outside cars) safe? Is risk of death or injury the price we have to pay for mobility? As health promoters, we see injury prevention (as well as pollution and healthy neighbourhoods) as a key component of healthy communities, and road safety as surely something worthy of serious design efforts that mitigate danger. The international Vision Zero movement agrees.

"No loss of life is acceptable. In every situation a person might fail -- the road system should not. This is the core principle of the Vision Zero concept." -- http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

In essence, Vision Zero works to design transportation systems that compensate for human error. Whatever mistake you might make as an imperfect and distractable human, the systems around you should protect you. It's an approach that puts much more emphasis on design and much less on the behaviour of the system's users. When health promoters talk about lifestyle issues we often say "make the healthy choice the easy choice" -- it's easy to see how Vision Zero is doing exactly that.

On November 29, HC Link Coordinator Andrea Bodkin and I are excited to be covering the Vision Zero Summit on social media. Organized by Parachute, the Summit will look at how Vision Zero is being implemented in Canada, drawing on examples from Canada and beyond. Watch for our tweets and blog posts!

As Edmonton, which was the first Canadian city to officially adopt Vision Zero, says:

"Why should you get behind Vision Zero?

We all want our loved ones to get home safely."

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

More information:

Vision Zero (Sweden)

Vision Zero Canada

Parachute Canada - Vision Zero

Canada's Vision Zero Summit

Summit hashtag: #VZSummit

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Working together in a Good Way

By Stephanie Massot, HC Link

Last month in partnership with Timiskaming Best Start, HC Link delivered a webinar called ‘What we are doing in a good way: A cultural competency framework model’. Working in a ‘Good Way’ means doing things in a principled, holistic way with kindness, caring, patience and, respect and is a term commonly used by many First Nations and Métis to describe a way of thinking, being and doing that is rooted in Indigenous values.i During the preparations for the webinar, the Indigenous women I worked with taught me what it looks and feels like to approach a webinar in a Good Way.

For instance, holding meetings in a Good Way meant that our conversations went at a comfortable pace and were not rushed. This usually meant that meetings took longer than the time we had planned for and as a result I started to leave an hour available after each meeting in case that time was needed for further discussion. I valued having that flexibility in my own work schedule because I learned that when there is an opportunity to circle back and work in a non-linear way, more ideas are heard and new developments can emerge.

When working with Algonquin Elder, Grandma Marilyn, I learned that she wanted to smudgeii while drumming. As she says in the Implementation Toolkit for the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework, “Be aware of the frame of mind you’re in, not having negative thoughts: the smudge and the drum are there at the start for a reason, to calm us down.” We learned that the fire code of the building where Grandma Marilyn and the other presenters were supposed to gather would not allow for smudging and so another meeting space was found and we planned for other tech checks to occur there. As well, a smudging is typically never filmed. However, Grandma Marilyn offered to have a smudging she was doing in the community be filmed before the webinar and we included that as a video during the beginning and ending ceremonies of the webinar.

Opening and ending a webinar with an Elder was a powerful experience. In the community, Grandma Marilyn usually has from sunrise to sunset to sing and drum and is not constrained by the timelines of a webinar. Grandma Marilyn and her team of helpers practiced to ensure that everyone felt comfortable for the webinar and that all attendees would be able to participate in these ceremonies for Giving Thanks. Grandma Marilyn shared her wisdom with everyone and helped us all connect to each other even though we were all virtually attending. Participants from the webinar shared how they felt more interconnected with everyone and were thankful for this experience. Captured in the image below is Elder Protocol/Etiquette that should be considered if you would like to ask an Elder from your community to join an event that you are organising.

elderprotocol

This handout was developed as a promotional tool highlighting key elements of the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework.
To download a copy of the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework go to http://www.timiskamingbeststart.ca/resources_en.html.


The presenters encouraged all attendees to drop in, say hi and have a coffee at the band offices of local Indigenous communities. I also learned from the team that learning and using the language of the people you are working with shows respect for the language and culture. I learned that Chi-miigwetch means “big” or extra special thanks in Ojibwe and followed the advice of one of the presenters and started to use it wherever I would consider saying thank you – in my meetings, emails and the webinar. As a settler on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, I learned so much about working in a Good Way and I can’t say miigwetch enough to everyone who taught me during this webinar.

_________________________________________________________________________

i Chansonneuve, D. & Hache, A. (2016). Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework Implementation Planning Guide. Page 3.

ii Native Women’s Centre (2008). Traditional Teachings Handbook. Page 7.

 

 

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Improving Primary Health Care by Reducing Stigma – Webinar Summary

By Jewel Bailey, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre


The stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness and substances use challenges experience on a daily basis can lead them to avoid seeking help. When it occurs in a primary healthcare setting it can be felt even more deeply, and can have especially negative effects.

camhblogoct25

Primary healthcare providers can play a key role—they can cause stigma or be powerful agents against stigmatization.

In 2010, the CAMH Office of Transformative Global Health (OTGH) partnered with three Toronto-based Community Health Centres to develop and implement an anti-stigma, pro-recovery intervention among primary healthcare providers. On September 29, 2016, the CAMH Provincial System Support Program and OTGH hosted a webinar: “Improving Primary Health Care by Reducing Stigma.”

This webinar explored:

  • the development of the anti-stigma, pro-recovery project

  • the components of the intervention;

  • changes in attitudes and behaviours of the providers who took part in the pilot project.

The presenters were:

  • Akwatu Khenti, Director, OTGH, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research

  • Jaime Sapag, Project Scientist, OTGH, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research

  • Sireesha Bobbili, Special Advisor/Project Coordinator, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research


Watch the webinar and see the presentation slides

 

 

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Q: What do SFPY Program Families and the Toronto Blue Jays have in common?

By Jane McCarthy, Parent Action on Drugs

 

A: RESILIENCY!

Photo credit: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press

bluejaysAs the Toronto Blue Jays recently headed into the post-season with a series of phenomenal wins on the heels of a dreadful September performance, we heard the word, “resilient,” used to describe them. The media used it, colour commentators used it and even the players, when interviewed after the big Wild Card Game win attributed their come-back to being a “resilient” team. We heard it again after taking down the favoured Texas Rangers in three straight, high-drama games. You can knock’em down and just before you count them out, they bounce back better than before! That... is resiliency... in elite sports.

Resiliency to bounce back from adversity of a far more “real word” and uninvited nature, is something we all need to acquire to reach our peak potential. Youth in particular need to be equipped with the ability to cope with less than ideal situations, problem solve and learn from experiences to successfully and safely navigate their way through the ups and downs of life. Research shows that a resilient youth is less likely to become involved in problems such as substance use, gambling or other anti-social behaviours. But, like the Blue Jays, they can’t do it alone. Developing skills from within to build self-esteem, to be your best self, and to stay positive, all components of resiliency, must be paired with external support.

I believe the fact that the Blue Jays had an entire country rallying around them, not something experienced by any other team, gave them an extra boost in their confidence and will to persevere despite the odds, injuries and seemingly insurmountable September slump. For youth, their families, peers, schools and communities are highly influential in helping them become resilient, believing in themselves and making healthier choices regardless of what life throws at them.

sfpy logo 2Parent Action on Drug’s Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SPFY) program is an excellent opportunity for both parents and their teens to become resilient as a team and as individuals. While there are external forces beyond the family, the program focuses on strengthening the most direct relationship, that of parent and child. SFPY is a nine-week skill-building program for families to raise resilient youth. The program takes a ‘whole family’ approach that helps parents and teens (12-16 years) to develop trust and mutual respect. It is a shortened, adapted version of the 14-week Strengthening Families Program (SFP) developed by Dr. Karol Kumpfer of the University of Utah.

If you are with an organization that works with youth and families interested in promoting healthy outcomes, consider implementing the SFPY program now. Through the SFPY curriculum (and optional support package) your organization will provide families with a complete research-based approach to improving parent-teen relationships, and to helping youth build resilience that will support good decision making and mental health.

Resiliency just may lead the Blue Jays to championship success this year, but it will certainly lead parents and youth to realizing peak performance in family functioning and pursuing lifetime success in whatever is meaningful to them!

For more information on programs and resources for parents and youth on substance misuse prevention visit www.parentactionondrugs.org and www.parentactionpack.ca

 

 

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