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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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Celebrating Our Collective Successes: Release of HC Link's Inaugural Report

HC Link is thrilled to release our Inaugural Report! HC Link has had an incredible year of learning and growth, and we are proud to share some of our accomplishments with you.

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By working together with organizations across Ontario we have helped create healthy, vibrant communities that are engaged and passionate about the factors that contribute to their wellbeing. Our report contains a sampling of stories from some of the community organizations and partnerships with whom we've had the pleasure to work with this last year. Community story highlights include:

- Supporting the creation of an active transportation plan for the communities of Port Severn, Honey Harbour, and MacTier;

- Engaging Francophone community leaders in the creation and implementation of an action plan to support elderly-friendly villages in West Nipissing and Sudbury East;

- Providing a workshop to introduce a comprehensive approach to mental health and substance abuse providers in Sioux Lookout; and

- Guiding the design of a community-based planning process to connect community members from a wide range of sectors in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville.

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We are proud that our services are well-received and that the demand for our expertise is steadily growing. To read other client testimonials, and learn more about HC Link's work, please download the report.

For more information:

- browse HCLinkOntario.ca;

- email us at us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or

- call us 416-847-1575 or 1-855-847-1575.

 

 

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Good Ideas for Making Policy Succeed

Last Thursday, I joined roughly 200 policy wonks during a "lunch and learn" event with the Maytree Foundation's Five Good Ideas series. For each session, Maytree invites a different expert to share five practical ideas, and to discuss how these thoughts can be put into action. Sherri Torjman, vice-president of the Caledon Institute, presented the final session in the current series.

Sherri, drawing on her background in poverty eradication and disability issues, shared that the purpose of policy work is to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Policy work aims to effect change, in the public interest. Policy work promotes the inclusion of those who are under-represented in a community.

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Policy development is a critical area for HC Link's clients. Last year, approximately 10% of our consultations concentrated on policy development. Even consultations that do not focus on policy work often have a small policy component.

I was reminded of some of HC Link's recent work as Sherri shared her thoughts. Earlier this year, HC Link worked closely with an elderly-friendly village initiative, which was having difficulty implementing an action plan that was developed several years prior. The village's aim is to improve the quality of life for elderly citizens by providing an inclusive and secure environment that encourages a vibrant and enriching life. HC Link was able to provide training sessions, which addressed motivation of volunteers in the development of community projects, how to recruit volunteers, how to access resources, and how to influence health promotion policies.

Sherri's good ideas hold true not only for policy work, but community work in general, and the principles can (and have been) applied to HC Link initiatives.

1. Trust your knowledge. In this case, our consultant Estelle Duchon's expertise in engaging Francophone communities was extremely valuable in revealing the community leaders' needs.

2. Dream big. Big ideas mean big results. As a partner mused "Crazy ideas are ideas that are destabilizing at first, but end up making a difference. They serve as a trigger in the community."

3. Go the extra mile. Implementing an action plan seemed particularly challenging to the involved committees. In order to ensure progress, they contacted HC Link for assistance.

4. Hold that thought. Timing is essential. Sometimes it's worth waiting for a ripe opportunity. In this case, the community was able to implement an action plan after several training sessions which equipped them with the right knowledge and tools for action.

5. Find your Karasima. Find inspiration in your work. In Sherri's case, it was a comment from Karasima, a women on crutches, which validated Sherri's work. In Noëlville and Verner, it meant understanding that addressing seniors concerns also meant addressing the needs of other vulnerable populations, such as children and people with disabilities.

HC Link has delivered webinars and created educational resources involving policy development. We also have a resource bank with a wide variety of relevant readings.

Selected resources include:

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