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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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HC Link’s East Regional Gathering: “From Knowledge to Action: Moving Forward on the Social Determinants of Health”

Submitted by Lorna McCue, HC Link

  • Are you concerned about the inequities in our society, especially in relation to our children?
  • Would you like to better understand what the social determinants of health are and how they impact the overall health and wellbeing of everyone?
  • Would you like to see how you can make a make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling in our society?

These are the questions that were posed to participants of HC Link's East Regional Gathering: "From Knowledge to Action: Moving Forward on the Social Determinants of Health", held Tuesday, November 6, 2012 in Renfrew County.

The gathering was initiated by HC Link, as one of four regional gathering undertaken this year.  Other regional gatherings are being planned in the northeast, central east and southwest regions of the province. Through Lyn Smith, Coordinator of the Renfrew County Child Action Poverty Network, HC Link staff connected with and worked with others to plan and event that would focus attention on the social determinants of health.

HCL Kara

 

Sixty-two people gathered to listen to panelists that inspired us with their stories and creative practices, and to engage in dialogue with each other to share, plan, and come up with creative solutions to take back to their community and/or place of work. The gathering was facilitated by Jeff Kohl, of HC Link and was organized around four specific topic areas:

  1. Social Determinants of Health, with Suzanne Schwenger of HC Link and Karen Woods, of the Parent Resource Centre;
  2. Mental Health Promotion, with Greg Lubimiv, Executive Director of the Phoenix Centre for Children & Families and Tom Sidney, Youth Crisis Intervention Specialist for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board;
  3. Community Food Security/Systems, with Lorna McCue of HC Link, Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director of The Table Community Food Centre and Shawna Babcock of KidActive;
  4. Housing/Homelessness, with Dave Studham , Executive Director of Renfrew County United Way, Arijana Tomicic, Executive Director of Family & Children's Services, Lina Farias, Psychotherapist, Shelley VanBuskirk, Housing Services Branch, City of Ottawa and Tom Sidney from the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board.

Please click on the speaker name to access their presentation

All speakers shared valuable information and perspectives, as did many of the participants. Karen Wood, assisted by Shawna Babcock, used humour to illustrate various facets of the social determinants of health by re-writing the letters of children's book The Jolly Postman. Greg Lubimiv shared a story of transformational change in the way he viewed what "helping" can mean for clients. Tom Sydney spoke about the importance of creating resiliency within our youth, so they can learn to cope with the difficulties they face in life. Participants were impressed by the story of the transformation of the Perth Food Bank into The Table Community Food Centre, which offers a comprehensive range of community food programs, a peer advocacy office and an 8,000 sq. ft. community garden, with the help of over 100 volunteers.

 

HCL Tom


Throughout the day the room was often buzzing as participants caught up with colleagues and talked about the common issues they are facing. Throughout the day participants suggested potential topics for the conversation café, held after the final panel presentation. During the ensuing conversation, quite a bit of interest was shown in the concept of "radical efficiency", aimed at creating different, better and lower cost public services.

At the end of the day, participants were asked what they saw as being the most important role for HC Link. There were many nods in the crowd for the suggestion that, just as our name indicates, our primary function should be to connect groups working on similar projects, so they don't need to re-invent the wheel and repeat the mistakes of others. From the evaluation forms and the feedback we heard at the event, it seems that this regional gathering was a success, and was seen by participants as an important opportunity to update their knowledge and network with each other.

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Whistle While You Walk

 By Andrea Zeelie, HC Link

The benefits of physical activity cannot be overstated. Physical activity is more than sweat-inducing high intensity exercises. Simply walking more offers reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer as well as improved mental health. An active lifestyle combats some of the worst habits for personal health, such as inactivity and a poor diet.

The recently published Road to Health advocates for use of “active transportation,” such as walking or cycling. But, as the report suggests, active transportation can be more challenging for those living in areas affected by urban sprawl or in neighbourhoods with low walkability. Barriers to active transport include usage patterns (such as trip distances), the built environment (such as pavement quality), education (such as understanding of physical health,) and weather (such as ice or snow). Walking may not be possible as a mode of transportation, but it is still an essential physical activity. A recent study by the American College of Sports Medicine reports that children and youth should take approximately 12,000 steps per day to sustain an optimal level of physical activity.

Ontario hosts several fantastic walking focused events which encourage individuals to actively explore their surrounding environment:

- Jane’s Walk celebrates the urban ideals of Canadian activist and writer Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk has grown into a global event, taking place on the first weekend of May each year. Community members lead walks in their local neighbourhoods, often around a specific theme. Jane’s Walk is an enjoyable and affordable way to learn more about your community or explore a new one – on foot!

- Doors Open Ontario gives the public access to both commonplace buildings and heritage sites that are not usually open to the public. Sites are open from 10am to 4pm, all weekend (exact dates vary by location), free of charge. Plan to walk to a few sites and make a day of it. This year’s Open Doors celebrates the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

- A number of private companies offer specialized tours, ranging from culinary adventures to mystery expeditions. But plenty of options exist for walkers interested in free tours year round:

  • Some towns and cities provide historical Heritage Walks.
  • Self-guided trails, such as Discovery Walks, encourage environmental exploration.
  • Art galleries and museums offer programming, such as the Royal Ontario Museum’s ROMwalk, which include guided excursions of notable architecture.
  • Ontario Walks is an initiative to encourage physical activity amongst Ontario residents.

To learn more about how physical activity promotes healthy communities, visit HC Link's resources.

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