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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Webinar Recap: The Drivers of Implementation and Change

Submitted by Linda Yoo, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

Earlier this month, the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre hosted the second in a 3-part webinar series on Implementation Science called Part 2 - Drivers of Implementation and Change. Featuring presenters from CAMH's Provincial System Support Program, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the webinar provided an overview of the drivers for implementing change based on the National Implementation Research Network's Active Implementation Framework (NIRN).


During the first half of the webinar, Alexia Jaouich, from CAMH's Provincial System Support Program, highlighted the three main implementation drivers: competency drivers, organizational drivers, and leadership drivers.

First, Alexia provided a summary of competency drivers such as the selection of staff, training, coaching and performance assessments. She noted that competency drivers are essential to ensuring staff have the adequate skills and on-the-job coaching to implement evidence-based practices with fidelity.

Next, Alexia spoke about organizational drivers such as decision support data systems and administration systems. She explained that organization drivers assist organizations in developing new ways of working as well as strategies for making continual improvements. Further, by developing new data and administration processes, organization drivers can help ensure new interventions are more likely to be sustainable.

In discussing leadership drivers, Alexia commented that leadership is critical for effective implementation at all levels and for all drivers. Technical leadership drivers are those that help establish internal structures and processes that keep all the moving parts of an intervention working together. On the other hand, adaptive leadership drivers help deal with recurring problems that are difficult to resolve.

Overall, Alexia stressed that driver-based action planning has multiple benefits. Some benefits include ensuring that necessary processes are built, strengths and processes get celebrated, next steps are planned, and results measured.

In the second half of the webinar, Hélène Gagné, from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, spoke with Peggy Govers from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit about her health unit's implementation of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program. Peggy shared insights on the importance of implementation drivers in the roll out of Triple P. For instance, Peggy shared that leadership drivers allowed opportunities for her health unit to start discussions with other stakeholders, including building common language.

To view a recording of this webinar, please click here. You can also download the presentation slides here by clicking here.

Finally, there are still a few more registration spots for the third and final webinar in this series called Part 3 - Implementation Science Tools. We will take a closer look at some of the tools of implementation with examples of their use on the ground. Visit the registration page for here for more information.

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Latest OSDUHS Research Findings Shine Light on Student Mental Health, Physical Health and Well-being

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

About six months ago, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released the latest student drug use findings from the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). Today, researchers from the OSDUHS team are releasing findings specific to student mental health and well-being captured during the 2012-2013 school year from over 10 000 students in grades 7-12 in Ontario.


The latest findings provide a snapshot of major trends relating to student mental health, physical health and risk behaviours through student reports on:

  • Home and school life
  • Health care utilization
  • Physical health including body image
  • Internalizing indicators (e.g. self-rated mental health, self-esteem, psychological distress)
  • Externalizing indicators (e.g. anti-social behaviour, violent behaviour, violence at school, bullying)
  • Gambling and video gaming

In their latest report, the OSDUHS researchers identify both encouraging findings as well as areas of public health concern. Some selected highlights of these findings are below:

Areas of Public Health Concern

  • There are several stark concerns when it comes to student physical health:
    • 1 in 3 students reports texting while driving at least once in the past year. Among students in grade 12, 46% report this very dangerous behaviour.
    • In addition, 1 in 2 students report not always wearing a helmet while cycling, increasing the risk of brain and other injuries.

  • There are also several concerns relating to student mental health:
    • More students today, compared with a few years ago, rate their mental health as fair or poor. And, between 1 in 8 students (an estimated 128 400) report seriously contemplating suicide in the past year. What's more, female students are twice as likely as males to report contemplating suicide.
    • One in three students report gambling in the past year. While, 1 in 10 students report having a video gaming problem.

Encouraging Findings

  • A majority of Ontario students rate both their physical health and mental health as excellent or very good.
  • A majority of Ontario students get along well with their parents and they report a positive school climate.
  • A majority of students are not getting bullied. Since 2003, schoolyard bullying rates have fallen from 33% to 25% in 2013.

In the past, Ontario public health and health promotion professionals have used the OSDUHS findings to inform program planning and decision-making. To follow up on recent webinars on the OSDUHS drug use findings, this Fall, the CAMH Health Promotion Resource with be partnering with the CAMH's Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) and the OSDUHS research team to provide in depth presentations on the latest mental health and well-being findings through two provincial webinars. Stay tuned for registration details!

To read the full OSDUHS mental health and well-being report, please visit CAMH's website by clicking here.

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2013 OSDUHS Webinar Series Recap: From Evidence to Action

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

On June 17, participants from across the province representing various sectors like education, public health and policy attended the second webinar, Part 2 – From Evidence to Action, in a webinar series on the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). The webinar was co-hosted by the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre (HPRC) and Evidence Exchange Network (EENet), both located in the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) at CAMH.


This second webinar focused on bringing evidence from the OSDUHS into action. In addition to learning about the findings, participants learned how they apply to programming, planning and policy in health promotion and prevention. Presenters in this webinar included representatives from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and Ottawa Public Health.

Public health nurses at Ottawa Public Health, Darcie Taing and Robin Ray, spoke about how the OSDUHS findings allow their health unit to monitor health trends in children and youth and make the case for evidence-informed programming such as Healthy Transitions, a program that promotes resilience in youth.

In addition, Michael Stephens of the CCSA spoke about the application of the Canadian Standards for Youth Substance Abuse Prevention in relation to the OSDUHS findings.

"This recent webinar series reflects an effective partnership between CAMH and other system partners, like CCSA. To apply evidence into action, we need to work together to produce reliable evidence and translate that knowledge in ways that are meaningful and usable to our community partners," said Stephens.

To view the recording from this webinar click here and to view the slides click here.

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Shining new light on tobacco prevention

By Jenna Chisholm, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Eastern Ontario Health Unit

On May 8th, 2014, OBO Studios and Love My Life explored tobacco's presence in social and physical environments through the eyes of youth. Many attended the mixed media sculpture exhibition to be inspired by the beautiful expression of the youth voice.

Love My Life...Tobacco Free (LML) is a youth led campaign engaging youth in creatively expressing how they love and celebrate their lives tobacco free. Keeping a positive approach, LML's goal is to increase tobacco free environments supportive of health living for the mind, body and spirit.

Ten talented and creative youth came together with OBO Studios and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) in a three month project to shine new light on tobacco prevention and advocacy by creating and thinking outside of the box. The opportunity to showcase their creations was an opportunity for these young artists to influence others and spark change.

Vincent Films captured the entire process in a short documentary (view below). Read the rest of the blog to learn more about the project and some of its key learnings.

How this project came to be:

In the fall of 2013, the EOHU approached OBO Studios with an idea to build on their connection with youth. OBO's practice of engaging young artists in teen workshops seemed like a beautiful fit for the EOHU's Youth Engagement focus. OBO had access to youth and public health had funding and a theme.

From the initial partnership proposal to the final commitment agreement, there were fruitful discussions to find a project centered on shared core values. Traditional tobacco prevention initiatives have had negative nuances with shades of black and grey. Understandably, OBO couldn't identify.

True to OBO's name, Our Beautiful Obsession, the studio and the EOHU found harmony in the beauty of positivity and loving life. With the core values of celebrating life and protecting life's breath, the LML...Tobacco Free Project was born.

By January 2014, the studio had recruited the 10 young artists whose parents/guardians signed commitment forms. February through April, artists were provided three full sessions plus two bonus studio days to complete their work. Sessions were themed on LML's 3 healthy living components: mind, body and spirit.

Respecting LML's culture of positive self-expression, the studio facilitated the project and provided the youth with the sculpted mixed media concept and vision of the project. From there, the youth had free reign to be as expressive and creative as they could dream. Results were phenomenal and the artists were eager to share their voice during the public exhibition.

Some key learnings from the project:

  • A post project debrief highlighted that the project was in fact double the work (hours, resources and effort) than initially quoted by the studio. Additional studio hours were needed in order to complete the project pieces. OBO recruited a seamstress to help; this was not in the quote/invoice. Luckily a local artist/seamstress was looking to barter with the studio in exchange for free studio time.

  • It also was outlined that IT help and resources would have been a necessary component of the project to facilitate certain processes. Because of this lack, there were difficulties with the slide show during the exhibit and personal time outside of the quote was put into simply making due.

  • The Exhibit was well attended however the media attention was underwhelming. Organizers used the EOHU media outlets to invite media to attend and pick up the story however it may have been better to connect with the media directly from the studio, using personal connections to solicit attention. Thankfully having documented the project on video allowed for the story to be shared with a wide audience online.

  • The short timeline for the magnitude of the project didn't permit for most of the pieces to be solid enough for transportation. For this reason, a graphic designer was hired to create a banner display in which each artist is featured. This display will act as a traveling exhibit of this LML project. Thankfully the pieces will also live on in the documentary which also captures their pure essence.

  • What is non-debatable is that the youth were amazed with how all of their individual voices came together for an explosion of beauty in the face of tobacco during the exhibit. Youth trusted the process and found out a little bit more about who they are. This is how we become critical thinkers with a good perspective; an important quality for young advocates.

  • This project was made not only possible but a success thanks to teamwork. Each partner played a vital role. From the youth and parents to the seamstress and filmmaker; lead and supportive roles were essential.

With public health's support, engaging youth through LML is a winning strategy. This beautiful expression of 10 young artists showcases how they 'LML' tobacco free: For more information on LML please visit or contact Jenna Chisholm, Youth Engagement Coordinator, Eastern Ontario Health Unit (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

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Saying When: New CAMH App Aims to Help People to Curb or Quit Drinking

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has launched a new mobile app, Saying When, which helps those who want to cut back or quit drinking manage their drinking habits in real time. Based on an established self-monitoring, but paper-based, program from CAMH, the audience is meant for individuals that are concerned about their drinking but do not have a severe substance use disorder.

Saying When

There are several key features of the Saying When app:

  • An introduction to the Canadian Low Risk Drinking Guidelines which are guidelines that help people moderate alcohol consumption
  • A function called "Taking Stock" which lets people identify current habits to help set goals
  • Infographics that describe and define standard drink sizes
  • Tracking features where people can enter the drinks they consume and then monitor the quantity of drinks.
  • A coping section that shows which approaches work best for the user when they are trying to cut back or quit drinking.

The release of this app is timely given recent reports that show alcohol consumption as a serious public health issue. According to the latest findings of the CAMH Monitor, an Ontario-wide telephone survey of substance use and mental health indicators 18 and older, 18.4 % of Ontarians exceed low-risk drinking guidelines. This is significant since exceeding low-risk drinking guidelines increases the risk of various social and health harms.

Currently, the Saying When app is available on iTunes and is another tool that public health and health promotion practitioners can add to their toolkits when working with community members that would like to reduce or quit drinking.

For more information about the Saying When app, visit the CAMH website.

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Webinar Recap: 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey Results – Part 1

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

On June 5, the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre and EEnet co-hosted a webinar to share the findings of the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) results. Conducted every two years since 1977, the OSDUHS asks Ontario students in Grades 7 to 12 about topics that include drug use and related harms, drug perceptions, mental health and physical health.

Led by CAMH, the OSDUHS is the longest ongoing student survey in Canada. Data from the OSDUHS is analyzed and shared as two different reports: one is the drug use report and the second is the mental health and well-being report. The focus of this past webinar was the drug use report.

The webinar began with Tamar Meyer (CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre) and Novella Martinello (CAMH Provincial System Support Program) sharing a summary of various drug use trends. Tamar and Novella reported on:

  • Overall drug use by students in 2013
  • Long term trends from 1977-2013
  • Early initiation in drug use trends
  • Some drug specific highlights
  • Vehicle-related risks associated with drug use
  • Drug use and the school context

Following their summary, Tamar and Novella led a panel discussion with members of the OSDUHS research team including Dr. Bob Mann (Senior Scientist, Social and Epidemiological Research Department, CAMH), Dr. Hayley Hamilton (Research Scientist Social and Epidemiological Research Department, CAMH) and Angela Boak (Research Coordinator and Analyst Social and Epidemiological Research Department, CAMH) as well as with Gloria Chaim (Deputy Clinical Director of the Child, Youth and Family Program ,CAMH). The panelists identified positive findings in the survey results as well as areas of public health concerns.

OSDUHS Presenters

(From left to right): Monica Nunes (HPRC-PSSP), Dr. Hayley Hamilton (OSDUHS team), Tamar Meyer (HPRC-PSSP), Novella Martinello (East Region-PSSP), Dr. Robert Mann (OSDUHS team), Angela Yip (EENet-PSSP)

Highlights of their reflections are below:

Positive Findings

  • There have been long term declines in alcohol use and tobacco use.
  • Use of illicit drugs such as cannabis is also on downward trend.
  • Prevention programs which aim to delay initiation of substance use have shown progress. For example, students today use substances starting at an older age.


  • A significant number of students are still smoking or using tobacco with devices such as hookahs or electronic cigarettes whose health impacts are not yet fully known.
  • Students that drink alcohol are drinking in hazardous ways such as by binge drinking or mixing alcohol with energy drinks.
  • More students are driving after cannabis use than after drinking alcohol.
  • Over-the-counter medications are the only drug that shows an increase in use since 1999. 10% of students reported using over-the-counter medications to get high in the past year.

To hear more about these drug use trends, you can view the full webinar recording here: and download the presentations slides here. You can also read about the latest OSDUHS findings and reports on CAMH's website.

Finally, join us for the second webinar in this series, Part 2: Evidence to Action by signing up here.

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Learnings from the OSNPPH Nutrition Exchange

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

There are two things I can say right off the bat about the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH) 2014 Nutrition Exchange – Laying the Foundation for Strong Communities; they had an excellent line up of speakers, and a room full of passion! With a health promotion background, I certainly have much common ground with that of Nutrition Professionals in Public Heath, however, not being so immersed in the Nutrition field, I realized how much work goes on behind the scenes, and was privy to some of the internal debates, that we just aren't that aware about at the public level. This was an invaluable experience for me. And while it will be impossible to sum up this whole experience in a single blog post, I will speak about some of my key learnings from this conference.

The biggest takeaway message for me came from Dr. Lynn McIntyre, Professor at the University of Calgary, who went through the history of how food insecurity has been framed in Canada –looking at the unique contribution of nutrition professionals. 1996 marked the beginning of Canada's commitment to food insecurity, and it was constructed as an income and social issue - We were on the right path! However, a whole bunch of other issues began to get mixed into the problem of food insecurity (a research term called conflation) – which actually made us lose sight of the root cause and focus on the issues that were easiest to solve. McIntyre believes that child feeding programs (like school breakfast programs) and food banks were the first wedge in killing the child poverty reduction movement. Now, food literacy is a hot topic being thrown into this bag of issues too, moving us farther from the real solution. This caused some discomfort in the room – we believe in the importance of food banks, child feeding programs, food literacy programs etc., and know about the great work and benefits of these programs. The problem is not these programs though, we have every reason to continue with these – McIntyre says "Just don't do it because of food insecurity and hungry kids." We need to recognize the importance of these programs, while also recognizing that it is not solving the root problem – poverty. What stood out to me after this presentation was the passion in the room and the desire for this issue to be tackled, even if it meant that as nutrition professionals, they may have less of a front and centre role to play in food insecurity.

Nick Saul, President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada, brought in a perspective of how Food Centres can be a part of the solution. While Food Centres do provide emergency access to high quality food, they also can act as a space to bring people together to advocate and rally around the larger issues of poverty and food insecurity. As long as we are aware that Food Centres aren't providing a pathway out of poverty and are therefore not solving the root causes of hunger, we can recognize their benefit and understand how engaging the community in this issue is an important step.

Another really interesting presentation was given by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, widely known Obesity expert and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Freedhoff believes we have tied ourselves together too closely with the food industry, and their influence can be seen everywhere. While Freedhoff does think Canada's Food Guide is very important and beneficial to Canadians, he does question some of the recommendations and believes they can only be explained by politics and the food industry. He questioned chocolate milk as a healthy alternative to regular milk, and wonders how fruit juice can be considered a fruit (it is not considered as a serving of fruit in Australia for example). Contrary to the belief that all stakeholders involved in an issue should be brought to the table and become part of the collaborative solution, Freedhoff believes that we should not work with the food industry. He says we are making compromises that we should not be making, by giving them a voice at these tables. He suggests the only way to change the food industry is by creating an environment that causes them to change. I do see this as a very valid point, but I know there are likely pros and cons to each approach.

The last presentation I will touch on in this blog, was by Charlene Elliott, a research chair and professor at the University of Calgary, who spoke about food marketing to children. One important question she asked is "since when did food need to be fun?" Sure, eating food has always been a part of celebrations and bringing people together, but marketers have come up with a brilliant way of diverting attention away from unhealthy foods by creating the category of fun foods! Fun is not a social or public health problem that we need to solve, and everyone is entitled to fun. While fun and nutrition should be two distinct items, now people are asking themselves "Is this food healthy?" "Is this food fun?" and it is reconfiguring peoples relationships with food.

fun for you

Image from:

There were many other wonderful and knowledgeable speakers, and so many more learnings that I took home from this conference, but I thought I would just share a few of the highlights for me from this conference with you!

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Speaking Out For Change

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

Once again I have tasked myself, as regular blog readers will know, with the task of trying to capture an entire conference into a single blog post. In this case, the AOHC/alPHa joint conference, Prevent More to Treat Less, which brings together public and community health professionals. I have at least learned that not only is this difficult for me, but likely dull for you to read a catch-all post with a laundry list of themes.

AOHC conferenceImage from:

So, in this post I'm going to focus on a panel session that I just attended called "Speaking Out For Change: Health service providers and advocacy". Lori Kleinsmith and Rhonda Baron (Bridges CHC), Hazel Stewart (Toronto Public Health) and Monika Dutt (Cape Breton District Health Authority) have some excellent advice for those working to spread their message at the local level:

  • Consider a whole spectrum of activities, ranging from a quiet conversation to speaking out loudly. Advocacy is a dance with steps forward, back and sideways. Your commitment to the issue is what keeps it alive.
  • Working in partnership and engaging communities is critical. Never stop talking and never stop looking for ears to listen to you.
  • Data and evidence is important, but you need to know what the numbers mean, how to use them, and to combine data with stories of those with lived experience.
  • That being said, if you don't have data, don't stop advocating! If someone wants to know what the evidence is and you don't have it, be willing to say so and ask "how can we support you in getting the evidence you need?"
  • Working with the media is important. They are a way to get your stories out. You need to know how to pitch to them, to set up a healthy tension for debate.
  • There are some risks to advocacy. Consider what you do very carefully. Don't not do it- just think carefully. If the risk is too great for you, can you work collaboratively to find someone who can do it for you.

It was a truly inspirational session. I'll close with a couple of quotes from Hazel Stewart: "You'll never experience success without failure" and "Never give up. Keep talking. Find an ear to listen to you".

For more on the conference, check out the conference hashtag on twitter (you don't need an account to see it). You can also read my post on the Health Nexus blog.

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Implementation Science Webinar Series: Part 1 Recap

Submitted by Linda Yoo, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

Research indicates that there is an estimated 17 year gap between translation of health evidence and actual practice. And even then, only 14% of research evidence becomes incorporated into day-to-day practice.

Last month, the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre hosted the first webinar in a series called An Introduction to Implementation Science. Featuring presenters from CAMH's Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, this series aims to develop a working understanding of Implementation Science, increase awareness of implementation tools, and explore the application of Implementation Science to health promotion and public health settings. Simply said, Implementation Science is the study of methods that promote the uptake of evidence-based practice in real-life settings.


In the first webinar, titled Implementation Science: the What, the Why, and the How, presenter Alexia Jaouich (Senior Project Lead, CAMH PSSP) highlighted that the gap from evidence to action in implementation occurs when what is adopted is not used with fidelity, and what is used with fidelity is not sustainable nor at the best scale or scope to make a critical difference.

During the webinar, Alexia invited participants to reflect on factors that may prevent evidence-based interventions or practices from being implemented as intended. Examples of factors included competing demands, shifting priorities, structure of the organization, inadequate infrastructures and systems, lack of long-term investments and "change fatigue,". Further, she highlighted that methods such as the dissemination of information, training, mandates and regulations, funding and incentives, along with organization change are all necessary yet insufficient, when used alone, in leading to successful implementation.

To improve implementation, Alexia reviewed the Active Implementation Frameworks by the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) which include: usable interventions, implementation stages, implementation drivers, implementation teams, and improvement cycles. To learn more about the individual frameworks shared please check out the webinar recording and presentation slides.

Also, please join us for the remaining webinars in this series including:

• Part 2 – Drivers of Implementation and Change on Thursday July 3 2014, 11:00 – 12:30 PM (EDT)
• Part 3 – Implementation Science Tools on Tuesday July 22 2014, 10:00 – 11:30 AM (EDT)

You can register for the above webinars by clicking here.

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The importance of collaboration

By Kim Hodgson, HC Link Consultant

[Partnership] is an idea with which anyone can agree, without having any clear idea what they are agreeing about" (Guest and Pecci, 2001).

If you have had the privilege of working with community organizations for any length of time, you will likely smile wryly at the above quote. Leading and participating in collaborative endeavours is the new normal for most, if not all community organizations and civic institutions these days. Sometimes, these partnerships are "strongly suggested" or a pre-requisite for funding opportunities, and in other instances, representatives from diverse groups and organizations seem to almost effortlessly connect to each other, knowing that working together, they can achieve more than they ever could alone. And this, it seems, is one of the crucial success factors for collaborative work. Reflecting on her work with the Hamilton Roundtable on Poverty Reduction, Nancy Johnson observes that: It must be clear that the complexity of the issue demands a collaborative response and that collaboration is the only approach that has a chance of success. (N. Johnson, 2010)


 Photo Credit: jairoagua via Compfight cc

It is the complexity of the challenges that we face today, that makes working in collaboratives both necessary, and in fact rewarding. When individuals from diverse sectors and perspectives get together to talk about a problem, (getting them all together at one time is another story altogether), a fascinating albeit predictable, phenomenon occurs: We begin to understand the problem in all its messy complexity. And if we can sit in that uncomfortable spot for an undefined length of time, we begin to understand how certain organizations and agencies respond to a situation because of their organization's mandate, a provincial regulation or municipal bylaw that we didn't know existed, or because they simply don't have enough warm bodies to respond in the way that they would like. And through listening to people talk about their work, what they do, and what they would like to do, we create a better understanding of the issue at hand. It has been said that "a problem well-defined, is half solved." I believe that this is the beauty of collaborative work; each person brings a deep understanding of one piece of the puzzle, and they are able to see how they might "fit" into another person's piece.

A critical, if not the most crucial, component of making this first stage of collaboration (understanding the issue) successful, is finding and supporting a person who has the leadership and people skills to bring individuals from very diverse backgrounds together in a room, help make them feel comfortable, and create a safe, respectful environment for people to share what they know, and perhaps more importantly, share what they don't know. On top of this tall order, this individual needs to be able to tease out common issues that the group can rally around, and at the same time, be mindful of people's organizational self-interests. This is an exceedingly difficult task, especially when many groups are "chomping at the bit" to get "real work done." This is perhaps the biggest learning that I've had in my many years of working with collaboratives: the time-consuming "getting to know you", " What does your organization really do?" conversations are absolutely crucial for building a shared understanding of an issue, as well as for building relationships and trust. As the song says..."You can't hurry love", and you simply can't rush this stage of the collaborative's development. My advice...put the busy work of strategic planning and development of workplans on the backburner for a good chunk of time until the group is" well-gelled". It will be infinitely easier in the long run.

Question to leave you with: (please comment below!)
Why would well intentioned, skilled, time-strapped individuals from diverse organizations come together to undertake the time-consuming, complex and often messy task of figuring out how to work together?

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The Grades Are In - Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

Active Healthy Kids Canada just released their 2014 Report Card on the Physical Activity of Children and Youth: Is Canada in the Running? This is the 10th year anniversary of this comprehensive annual assessment, and the first year to reveal how Canada stacks up against 14 other countries.

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This report looks at a total of 10 indicators to assess physical activity, all of which fall within the categories of: behaviors that contribute to overall physical activity, settings and sources of influence, and strategies and investments. Grades are then assigned to each indicator based on examination of current data against a benchmark, assessment of trends over time, and the presence of disparities (disparities were primarily based on disabilities, race/ethnicity, immigration status, geography, socioeconomic status, urban/rural setting, gender and age). While the data on disparities is not shown in the summary report, there is a section on disparities for each indicator that can be seen in the full report. Unfortunately, there are not too many differences in how Canada has scored on this report card throughout the last 10 years.

Some key findings include:

  • Even though Canada is among the leaders in sophisticated polices, places and programs (B+ in Community and The Built Environment, C+ in Schools, and a C+ in organized sport participation), Canada is clustered near the back of the pack with a score of D- for Overall Physical Activity Levels!

    • 95% of parents report local availability of parks and outdoor spaces, and 94% report local availability of public facilities and programs for physical activity

    • There is a physical education curriculum in place at schools in every province and territory, and most students have regular access to a gymnasium (95%), playing fields (91%) and areas with playground equipment (73%) during schools hours

    • 75% of Canadian kids aged 5-19 participate in organized physical activities or sport

    • While 84% of Canadian kids aged 3-4 are active enough to meet Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines, this falls to only 7% of kids meeting guidelines at ages 5-11, and 4% at ages 12-17
  • Canada lags behind most of the international groups in Active Transportation (D) and Sedentary Behaviours (F)

    • 62% of Canadian parents say their kids aged 5-17 years are always driven to and from school (by car, bus, transit, etc.)

    • Canadian kids aged 3-4 spend 5.8 hours a day being sedentary, those aged 5-11 spend 7.6 hours and those aged 12-17 spend 9.3 hours.

This report asks an important question – if our policies and programs are well developed, why is this not translating into enough activity for our kids?

This report suggests that we have a culture of convenience here in Canada, which affects our likelihood to use active transportation to get to school. We value efficiency – doing more in less time – which may be at direct odds with promoting children's health. This report also suggests that we are over structuring our kids and perhaps being too cautious, which may be actually leading to less physical activity. In New Zealand, which leads the pack with a B in Overall Physical Activity and a B in Active Play, 4 elementary schools banned all safety-based playground rules and students not only became more active, but administrators reported an immediate drop in bullying, vandalism and injuries.

What are your thoughts?!
Please use our blog to comment on the question they pose - if our policies and programs are well developed, why is this not translating into enough activity for our kids?

Click here for the full report
Click here for the short report (summary)
Click here for communication tools to help in the dissemination of the report



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It’s Prom Season: New resources for parents and teens to help plan for a safe night

By Andrea Zeelie-Varga, Parent Action on Drugs

Experts say teens are paying more and more attention to prom. Outlandish proposals, a perfect outfit and memories to last a lifetime - teens want an occasion to remember. Parents want their teens to stay safe, but sometimes don't know where to start. The Parent Action Pack has bundled a few resources to help parents and their teens make a plan for a safe, enjoyable prom! Health professionals working with parents and teens may find the following resources helpful:

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Let’s Celebrate Mental Health!

Submitted by Monica Nunes, CAMH HPRC

This week organizations across Canada and Ontario are celebrating both National Mental Health Week and Children's Mental Health Week. Many provincial and local organizations are hosting events to reflect on the variety of issues that affect mental health.

In the last few years the reach of Mental Health Week has grown enormously. In Ontario alone, the variety of different activities and events that exist to celebrate Mental Health Week are many. This says a lot about the enormous amount of work that has been done to address the stigma around mental illness.

Mental Health Week is also a great opportunity to reflect on mental health as something that is part of all of us. Although related, mental health is not the same as mental illness. Where mental illness describes a set of problems we might experience with our mental well-being, mental health is very much a positive concept. Mental health relates to our ability to feel, think and act in ways that help us get the most out of life. Like physical health, we all have mental health. Having good physical health and good mental health contributes to our overall well-being.

Many of the events for Mental Health Week address how we can take care of our own mental health as well as how to make communities mentally healthier. Check out these Mental Health Week event listings shared by two mental health organizations in Ontario:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health:;-Children%27s-Mental-Health-Week-(May-4-10).aspx

Canadian Mental Health Association – Ontario:

Also, if you're interested in exploring the differences and connections between mental health and mental illness and some basic strategies for mental health promotion, check out this webinar recording from the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre called Finding a Shared Language.

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Alcohol Consumption and Cancer: Making the Link

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

CCO report imageA new report from Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) called Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario: Alcohol identifies that as many as 3000 new cancer cases each year can be attributed to alcohol consumption. The same report highlights past research showing that only one third of Canadians are aware of the cancer causing impacts of alcohol consumption. Specific types of cancer that show links to drinking alcohol include cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, larynx, liver, colorectal and breast cancers.

For many of us, this information may be a bit surprising since we usually hear more about the social harms, like injury, that can stem from alcohol consumption. Still, the report makes the case for action and highlights opportunities for cancer prevention like the few areas that are noted below:

Increasing Public Awareness of Cancer Prevention Recommendations for Alcohol Consumption

The report highlights the need to increase public awareness of cancer prevention recommendations for alcohol consumption. Specifically, the report highlights the cancer prevention recommendations from the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research.. This recommendation states that if alcoholic beverages are consumed, alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. In Canada, one standard drink constitutes 13.6 grams of alcohol as the image from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse illustrates in their one-page summary on cancer prevention recommendations for alcohol consumption:

standard drink

Addressing Specific Groups

As another area of prevention, the report encourages health professionals and policy-makers to focus cancer prevention efforts among groups that tend to consume more alcohol. As an example, Ontarians who drink in excess of cancer prevention recommendations are also more likely to smoke. This is significant as research shows there is a higher risk of cancer among those who drink alcohol and smoke tobacco. Prevention efforts should also consider young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 who are more likely to drink in excess of the cancer prevention recommendations.

Addressing Alcohol Control Policy

As another area of prevention, the report also highlights evidence showing that there are a number of policy measures that can help decrease alcohol consumption. One of these policies includes reducing the number of outlets selling alcohol as well as their days and hours of sale. An overview of alcohol policies can be found in this CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre toolkit called Making the Case: Tools for Supporting Alcohol Policy in Ontario.

The full Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario: Alcohol report is available online at Cancer Care Ontario's website here. For those that have had a chance to take a look at the report or even heard about it through the media, is the link between alcohol and cancer new to you?

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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:


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


  • 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.)


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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:

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.


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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Webinar Recap: Mental Health Data for Health Promotion - Finding It, Using It

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

Local community need is a major driver of public health and health promotion activities. And, data often paints the picture of local needs. When it comes to mental health promotion, data is not always readily available. The CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre in partnership with Public Health Ontario and Ottawa Public Health recently explored this topic through a webinar.

Tamar Jacqueline Ben<style="font-size: 8pt;"="">Jacqueline Willmore (Ottawa Public Health), Ben Leikin (Ottawa Public Health) and Tamar Meyer (CAMH HPRC)

This webinar called Mental Health Data for Health Promotion: Finding it, Using it took a look at relevant population health, surveillance, and other data that can be used to inform, and respond to, local mental health needs in health promotion settings. From Public Health Ontario's Analytic Services, Jeremy Herring and Karin Hohenadel provided an overview of the provincial data landscape showcasing potential data sets that public health and health promotion practitioners may access for mental health related programming. This provincial snap shot was then complemented by Ottawa Public Health's presenters, Ben Leikin and Jacqueline Willmore, who provided examples of how their health unit has utilized national, provincial and local data sets to inform mental health related programming. Monica Nunes and Linda Yoo from the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre also shared information on data sets that are prepared by CAMH such the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, the CAMH Monitor and DATIS.

Throughout, presenters acknowledged some of the limitations and challenges in accessing data to address mental health in health promotion settings. One particular data gap is the tendency of available data to focus on the burden of mental illness and indicators related to treatment and mental illness rather than positive mental health.

Innovative solutions for linking available data to mental health related activities were also identified. In particular, webinar participants found the visual infographics presented by Ottawa Public Health and Public Health Ontario to share data on mental health in a more user friendly format particularly helpful. Public Health Ontario will soon launch a new mental health primer infographic in the coming days. And, you can check out Ottawa Public Health's various infographics here on their website.

A recording of this webinar is available here. And you can download the presentation slides from the webinar here.

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Webinar Recap- Spirit to Spirit: Learning from Practice

By Monica Nunes, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre

Spirit to Spirit, a webinar series developed by the CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre in partnership with CAMH's Aboriginal Community Engagement concluded recently. This series looked at considerations for health promotion and prevention practitioners when they are thinking about sharing knowledge for health promotion with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (FNIM) peoples particularly in the areas of mental health and substance use.

Part one of this webinar series, Foundations and Context, provided recommendations for effective engagement of FNIM communities and individuals with a focus on making change, social action and addressing stigma.

Part two, Learning from Practice, comprised a panel discussion with community partners. This webinar began with an introduction from the Manager of Aboriginal Community Engagement at CAMH, Renee Linklater who introduced the panel of presenters. Then, each presenter provided a unique perspective on important considerations for sharing knowledge with FNIM populations.


Lisa Beedie (Cancer Care Ontario) spoke from her experience with the Aboriginal Tobacco Program. Lisa powerfully noted that reclaiming health is an act of self-determination. To this end, Lisa shared that in her practice to support smoking cessation efforts, rather than enforcing a certain behavior with community members, she shares information to enable those she works with to arrive at their own health decisions.

Next, Dr. Claire Crooks (CAMH Centre for Prevention Science) highlighted a few ways that the Fourth R, youth relationship and resiliency building program, has been adapted to be more culturally relevant to FNIM youth. In discussing the Fourth R, an evidence-based intervention, Claire commented that as practitioners we must expand our notion of evidence to ensure that methods of research and evaluation are appropriate and empowering for participating FNIM programs and communities.

Finally, Laura Calmwind (Chiefs of Ontario) spoke about her youth engagement work with indigenous youth. She characterized these activities as a rights based approach where youth are seen as rights holders with the capacity to empower themselves. As an example of this practice, Laura described how youth influenced modifications to the suicide prevention activities they were involved with. Namely, youth participants saw the language of suicide prevention as limited and renamed these activities to be life promotion activities, reflecting a more hopeful, empowering and positive approach.

You can view the webinar Spirit to Spirit – Learning from Practice here:
and the slides here:

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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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The story of a peer sharing about storytelling

By Gillian Kranias, HC Link

A peer sharing session is different from a webinar. I enjoyed my first experience of web-based peer sharing in early February when Robyn Kalda and I co-hosted the peer sharing session "Engaging the Power of Story" for our HC Link community.

Over the past ten years, I have been on a personal mission to build awareness and skills for using storytelling more in my life and work. I sought out opportunities to learn and practice, and talked with many colleagues - which highlighted for me how many of us share this capacity building interest. After joining the team of HC Link, I learned that we could support others; and at our conference last fall, the idea of a peer sharing event on storytelling and narrative approaches was born.

Although our initial intention was to keep participant numbers limited (to make for a cozy dialogue), we realized that the cultural roots of storytelling practice would not support turning people away (e.g. principles of an open circle, and "whoever comes was meant to be there"). So we ended up with 35 participants. Some of those participants were self-defined "listeners". But the majority brought experiences to share.

As the lead moderator, I tried to collect a sense of who might be sharing what in advance. It was exciting to discover who found out about this event (especially as it was not the same people and organizations I had crossed storytelling paths with in the past). For those who shared their experiences while registering, I gave them a call to look at how we could prepare examples on the web meeting platform.

On February 11th, it took a long time to get through introductions... but creating that web of connection to launch the peer sharing was important (some introduced themselves by phone, others by our chat box). The conversation was rich and varied, and took us in many directions. This reflected how the power of story can support our work in so many different ways. We did not record the session, but notes are available, as well as two documents with further resources – one developed for HC Link and one shared by a peer participant (view the resources here).

During over an hour of dynamic discussions, one enduring take-away for me came from participants' reflections on the experience of sharing their own stories: how this spawns both personal and community healing (amidst vulnerability); and how waiting for the right moment matters (we are not always ready to share – yet). That reminds me that working with the power of story involves important preparations and development, and we cannot control all our outcomes.

Other examples shared by participants were of their roles in creating those spaces and support for story sharing. One case was storytelling facilitated between elders and youth in the context of community planning discussions; youth learned about the history of community change, which encouraged all to reflect on the role that planning community change could play. Another case was the facilitation of youth groups where the entire program consisted of offering generative questions to facilitate story sharing about the youth's experiences with tobacco – no lectures, just dialogue and allowing the youth to ask informational questions of service provider when their "right moment" had arrived.

We also explored how to tell organizational stories: of our efforts, our work, and our mission/vision/values.

HC Link will continue to look at how we can support your work with Engaging the Power of Story. Click here for our current resources posted from the peer sharing. And don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or support requests.

Gillian Kranias, Health Promotion Consultant
Ext. 2247
416-408-2249 (1-800-397-9567)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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