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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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Activating Your Conference

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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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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.

  1. 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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"Pay-what-you-can" meals change the world.

soup bar by feed it forward

Image Source: The Toronto Star

"Pay-what-you-can" meals change the world.

Jagger Gordan, Canadian chef and founder of Feed it Forward has recently opened "Soup Bar", a pay-what-you-can soup bar located in downtown Toronto. 

The soup bar caters to people of all economic means. Chef Gordan’s concept for Soup Bar is to provide hot, healthy, and balanced meals to anyone who wants one. For every $2.50 spent, a token is placed in a jar so that those who cannot afford to pay what they can may take a token from the jar and use that as payment for their meal. 

Chef Gordan began Feed it Forward to help reduce the amount of food being wasted in supermarkets and sent to landfills. The Soup Bar provides several types of soup and a side order of bread to all that would like it. He gets his supplies from grocery stores that have planned to throw food away as he believes wasting copious amounts of food is unacceptable. Referencing France’s new law, which bans supermarkets from throwing away good unsold food, forcing them to donate it to charities and food banks, Gordon has begun an online petition in hopes of achieving similar results here in Canada.  

The Soup Bar is located at 707 Dundas Street West. For more information on Jagger Gordon and Feed it Forward, visit: http://feeditforward.ca/

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Sustainability Planning Part Three: Developing a sustainability plan

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

sustain table 3

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

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

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Sustainability Planning Part one: What is sustainability?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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