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Recap: Central East Regional Gathering - Community Connections Count!

Submitted by Kathy Wong, Health Nexus

On March 20, 2013 HC Link together with YWCA Muskoka hosted an one-day forum on strengthening community connections and working on the social determinants of health in Muskoka, Simcoe, Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Peterborough regions. The event took place in Gravenhurst and despite the snowy weather we had a great number of participants. The purpose of this gathering was to bring health and social service providers to explore ways to foster community connections, learn how the social determinants of health affect our health and well-being, and understand why women are at particular disadvantage. The day started off with a keynote presentation that was delivered by Dr. Rosana Pellizzari, the Medical Officer of Health in Peterborough County-City Health Unit, which was very powerful and inspiring. Here are some key points that stood out to me during the presentation:

  • 20% increased health care spending is due to income disparities alone.
  • There is a lack of access to dental benefits in Peterborough region.
  • Adequate housing is an issue in Peterborough region.
  • People living with a family income of less than $30 000 face more health problems, are more physically inactive and engage more in unhealthy habits such as smoking.
  • Regulation and legislation are important and effective tools in health equity work.



In the afternoon, participants had the chance to attend 3 out of 7 World Café Sessions that provided them with more opportunities to share knowledge and stories, and build connections and collaboration. The conversation tables included topics such as the Strengthening Families program, Bridges out of Poverty initiative, Food Security Initiatives in Haliburton County and many more! As part of the building community connections theme, this forum ended with a drumming circle, led by Barry Hayward. For many participants, including myself, it was the first time to experience something like this. A drumming circle formed by a group of people playing hand-drums, percussion and other instruments in a circle. The drumming circle offers equality because there is no head or tail, and the purpose of it is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and form connections. What I learned was that only with collaborative efforts can we achieve our goals. It was very inspiring, engaging and fun!

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