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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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Improve the Built Environment in Your Community: Questions, Responses and Helpful Links from our online discussion

onlinediscussionfeb13If you are working to improve the built environment in your community, there’s a good chance you participated in our online discussion with consultant on tap, Paul Young, this past Monday. With a steady flow of well-thought out questions from participants, informative responses, and lots of peer sharing among the 100 attendees – it was a great learning opportunity!

To further that learning and to allow those who couldn’t join an opportunity to gain insights and connect to helpful information and resources, we are sharing the questions that were asked, responses from Paul and participants, as well as helpful links and resources shared for each question with you all! Feel free to scroll to questions that appeal to you, and don’t forget to check out additional resource links at the bottom of the blog! If you have any remaining questions, or want clarification on the information provided, you can email Kyley atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

1)During the Healthy Communities Partnership Project we worked with some of the municipalities to strengthen wording or add wording for Active Transportation and Built Environment in MOPs – now they have been done and it will be another 5 years until they start reviewing them again. What do we do in the meantime? Do we keep reviewing MOPs and see how they can be strengthened, what if the municipality doesn’t want to see us for a while? Are there other municipal documents that public health can have input into?

  •            A lot of interest from public health units in getting involved in planning

  •          The Official Plan was a big hit – enabled a high level approach to including things related to the built environment that affect health

  •         Official Plan updates are typically every 5 years, but there are other mechanisms to provide input on planning matters, such as:

    - Working on Recreation policy - access, Rec master plans, coordinating with the transportation plan (trails, for example, cross over between recreation and transportation).

    - Secondary plans (for high growth areas) – you can look at how well this plan supports walkability. Can look at age friendliness, cycling supports, food access, density, mixed use, complete streets, etc.

    - Working with schools - access to recreation, healthy food, active travel

    - Other built environment projects, like Environmental Assessments – that can shape road design

    - Can get involved in Transportation Policy (master plans) – such as paved shoulders, etc.

  • Public Health and Land Use Planning document by OPHA – has as a spectrum of great ideas that other public health units are doing on built environment: http://www.opha.on.ca/OPHA/media/Resources/Resource%20Documents/CAP_PHLUP-Report-Apr2011_1.pdf?ext=.pdf

2)What are some of the best strategies to engage Councillors or Mayors in AT planning/development - especially those Councillors/Mayors that have been huge barriers to AT.

  • It can be difficult to start with people who are not on board...try to engage a Champion amongst council and have that person serve as spokesperson

  • Fairly common way to engage a councillor would be on an active transportation committee – they can lead and be spokesperson OR have councillors sign a Walking or Active Transportation Charter, which is a public declaration of support

  • Experience in Thunderbay – Public Health organized a bus tour of dangerous intersections with councillors, municipal staff and community. We also went to places that were very supportive of active transportation, so they could see the difference – easy opportunity for a councillor to be involved

  • Health is usually an issue that council will respond to – preventing crashes and fatalities

  • Economic development is another- municipalities interested in attracting and retaining populations (i.e. age friendly communities with retirement)

  • quality of life as well – usually councils will have a strategic plan, and quality of life is usually a part of this

  • active transportation is a great way to frame and address all three of these

3) How do you sell Built Environment ideas (new trail, park, etc.) to councillors who are budget conscious? Do you have a good evidence-based resource?

  • Municipalities often conduct Recreation Needs Assessments e.g., surveys to find out what residents prefer – walking comes up usually as #1 – one reason to invest in trails

  • Walking is the easiest and least costly physical activity and so trails (walking and biking) can be a great way to support the needs of a councillors constituents

  • Economic development - having trails and access to recreation is a great way to attract and retain populations in their community

  • World Health Organization has age-friendly guidelines: Walkable communities are featured prominently http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/Global_age_friendly_cities_Guide_English.pdf?ua=1

 

4) Is there a business case document that shows the return on investment for built environment (reduction of health care costs due to injury/increase in physical activity)?

  • There are resources around the economic impact of building trails from a tourism standpoint. The Waterfront Trail has resources on this: Contact Marlaine Koehler at the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. See also Ontario By Bike

  • Rails to Trails Conservancy – search in their library : http://www.railstotrails.org/

  • Economic investment in trails is pretty clear

  • Challenge - Health care costs aren’t born by municipality but most active transportation infrastructure work is undertaken by municipalities (so municipality spends and province saves) – although we are starting to connect those dots more

Participants shared:

  • Niagara developed an economic value of AT fact sheets that include one about health care. Halton replicated it:

  • City of Toronto's road safety plan targets areas with high collision and injury incidence. Used mapping to help identify areas.

  • See also Parachute Canada’s Cost of Injuries (including transport injuries)

 

5) Do you know of any community (rural or urban) that is using injury statistics as part of their infrastructure planning for roads/cycle lanes/sidewalks?

  • Thunder Bay - GIS maps of injuries/fatalities to ID problem areas (they then took councillors and stakeholders on a tour of these locations) – raise awareness among decision makers to make those places safer

  • Hamilton Walking Strategy - looks at crash data as well

  • Port Hope - looked at problem street crossings

  • Most Transportation Dep'ts are aware of where crashes are occurring and could contact them for info or ask if this data is being collected

Participant shared:

  • The Saskatoon Health Region did a report on unintentional injuries and looked at emergency room and discharge data. Transportation injuries were included and we have shared this with the municipality (they were interested as it accessed data sources that they normally do not refer to/have access to). We use the data and the recommendations from the Chief Medical Health Officer to guide our advocacy and work with the community. This is the link to the infographics and one-page summaries: http://www.communityview.ca/infographic_shr_injury.html

 

6) Do you know of any really great strategies/policies to encourage walking in small rural communities?

  • HKPR health unit - Communities in Action Haliburton (www.communitiesinaction.ca) – you can see the great work they have been doing for some examples.

  • Getting councillors to sign a Charter – so you know there is political support

  • Lots of interest in walking in rural areas but distances are quite long… not as likely to be utilitarian walking as recreational walking.

  • Great opportunities for trails on abandoned rail lines or adjacent to active rail lines, hydro corridors, river corridors, waterfronts.

  • Trails are a great strategy to connect settlement areas.

  • When there are no trails, then rural solutions along road ways like paved shoulders

  • Encourage purposeful trails that connect to practical destinations – Georgian Trail near Collingwood connects to everyday destinations like shopping – trail connects to backside of parking lot of Meaford grocery store. Makes it more part of active transportation network.

 Participant shared:

  • In Northern Ontario (Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls) all have a walking map highlighting sidewalk routes which are distributed to various locations.

7) In rural communities transportation is often split between two tiers of government (Upper and Lower Tiers), with sidewalks and trails falling to the Lower government (at least this is the way it is in Peterborough County). Do you know of any upper tier ATMPs that include supportive policies/strategies for walkability?

  • Then you get down to details of how to separate the cyclists from pedestrians, which are usually covered in the master plan as well.

  • A lot of work going on in schools – unfolding at regional and municipal level

Participants shared:


8) Can anyone recommend any tools/checklists that planners can integrate into their planning process/application reviews in order to support health outcomes in approvals?

  • Peel Region - Healthy Development Index: http://www.peelregion.ca/health/urban/pdf/HDI-report.pdf

  • Checklists can be challenging to incorporate into the intricacies/nuances of planner's work

    • We can say we have a facility for cycling for example (and check the box), but it needs to be matched to the context – so if it’s a busy road way, you need a separated cycling facility and not just a bike lane.

  • City of Toronto has developed some tools as well. Example the Active City Reports

  • Most municipalities have a sustainable development or urban design checklist that incorporates sustainability – looking for things like bicycle parking, street trees, open space… (all tailored towards individual municipality)

  • This site provides a number of checklists: http://wcel.org/checklists

Particpants shared:

 

9) With respect to public spaces, aside from the requirements in the PPS, is there any research that shows how much park/green space you need in a built area (i.e., subdivision) so that this space contributes to increased physical activity and health?


10) Please share information on community health promotion initiatives that incorporate elements of Built Environment into their programming, e.g. walking groups, ‘yoga in the park’, etc., and incorporate advocacy for healthier Built Environments as part of their community development efforts.

  • Advocacy: many health units are promoting multi-stakeholder engagement processes and focusing on relationship-building and collaboration between sectors/dep'ts and in the community (health, planning, etc.) (E.g. planning, transportation, economic development, health).

  • Most departments are looking for improvements on the built environment – this is consistent with health objectives – less car dependence, compete streets, etc.

  • Niagara Region Health Unit is promoting/supporting AT committees in each municipality

  • Ultimate objective – form a Committee of council – made up of local representatives (counsellor, technical advisory people on staff, volunteers from community) – will advocate for AT-supportive planning and design

  • Policy work on a broader level – OPHA has done great work there

 

11)I am on an Accommodation Review Committee, that is going to make recommendations to the school board regarding the transition from an elementary school and high school and combining the two schools. I would very much look to gain input an insight in to some of the ways that the built environment, inside and out can help to improve health for the school and the community. One of the daycares in my community has recently done a lot of work to take out play equipment, and go with more natural setting with wood and trees. I look forward to any suggestions that you might have in to providing input in to creating a new school play yard and indoor school space.

  • Dufferin Grove - was slated to come up with a new play equipment but they looked at adding more natural alternatives (sand pit, water hoses, gardens, etc)

  • If amalgamation of schools – one thing to consider is there might be a loss of green space

  • In terms of school siting, there are advantages to siting it where most people live (rather than outskirts of town) and enabling shorter walking distances and limiting bussing needs

  • Hamilton has done some work on school siting to support AT

  • Regarding inside the school – healthy food, standing up desks, etc.

  • Naturalizing playgrounds are popular – Look at Evergreen Canada - Learning Grounds Program– they have funding and resources available on school yard greening: https://www.evergreen.ca/

  • Richard Louv's book “Last Child in the Woods” – talks about nature deficit disorder and importance of access to nature and play

 12) Have you or any others done work regarding improving health equity in/through the built environment? If so, any lessons to share?

  • People with low income rely more on active transportation and transit – ensuring these are located in close proximity to where people need it

  • Recreation fees

  • Access to food

  • Proximity to noise, unsafe areas, pollution, etc. – where you live affects your health. Some people are living with more health stressors because that is where affordable housing is – these are some things to consider.

 

Additional Resources

Paul Young’s resource listing to promote active transportation: http://www.hclinkontario.ca/images/2017/Resources_for_promoting_active_transportation_Paul_Young_2017.pdf

HC Link resource page on the Built Environment: http://www.hclinkontario.ca/resources/resources/built-environment.html

HC Link’s Digest PLUS on Community Transportation: http://www.hclinkontario.ca/images/2017/HCLinkNewsDigestPLUS1FEB2017_CommunityTransportation.pdf

 

 

 

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Tried and True Tools for Collaborative Work

By Pam Kinzie, HC Link Consultant

Those of us who have worked in partnerships, coalitions and other forms of community collaboratives, have seen many frameworks for collaborative work come and go over the years. Sometimes, I believe that the baby does truly get “thrown out with the bathwater” when excellent tools are abandoned for the next new thing. I suggest that we examine ways in which well-founded, widely used, evidence-based tools can be integrated into collaborative work. I’d like to make a case for one such tool - Results-based Accountability (RBA). No doubt many of you have other tools that have components for planning and implementation that you still find useful after many years.

hands 565602 1280Currently there is widespread use of the Collective Impact framework in Ontario amongst community groups. Developed by John Kania and Mark Kramer in 2011, it requires the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific complex social problem. Issues suited to collective impact are those that are not easy to resolve, have persisted over time, and cannot be solved in isolation.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation offers grants to support collective impact through strategy and transformative action to achieve a lasting change. It funds projects in three phases in order to assist collaboratives in defining, organizing and delivering impact initiatives.

The idea of working together to produce community “impact” is at the heart of both RBA and Collective Impact. Collective Impact literature sets out conditions for the success of community change efforts, and RBA provides specific methods to help partners meet those conditions. RBA is being used widely in North America, including by some groups in Ontario, and in more than a dozen countries around the world to create measurable change in people’s lives, communities and organizations. For complete information about RBA and how to use it I encourage you to read the book Trying Hard is Not Good Enough by Mark Friedman.

In her 2011 paper Achieving “Collective Impact” with Results-based Accountability Deitre Epps examines how application of the core RBA components enables community groups to operationalize each of the five collective impact conditions. She examines the seven population accountability questions in RBA that guide community partnerships and coalitions in their work to improve the quality of life conditions for children and families and draws parallels with how they can be used as practical tools to create common agendas, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities and continuous communication amongst partners. Mark Friedman the creator of RBA also demonstrates how RBA and Collective Impact fit together in his online article from 2014.

The strength of RBA is that it starts with ends and works backward, towards means. The “end”, “result” or difference you are trying to make looks slightly different if you are working on a broad community level or are focusing on your specific program or organization, but the two perspectives are always aligned. RBA makes the critical distinction between population and performance-level initiatives. It is what separates RBA from all other frameworks. It is a significant distinction because it determines who is responsible for what. Population accountability organizes work with co-equal partners to promote community well-being. In contrast, Performance Accountability organizes work to have the greatest impact on the customers of specific agencies – those whose lives are touched in the delivery of programs and services. What is done for customers is the contribution to the larger community impact.

Dan Duncan describes how RBA and a number of additional tools are important components of collective impact in his 2016 article The Effective Components of Collective Impact . He also describes the importance of community engagement and relationship-building, stressing that “organizations do not collaborate; people collaborate, based on common purpose and trust”. This article reinforced how many tools there are that can be employed to enhance collective impact work.

HC Link can support you to use RBA and other tools for collaborative work through workshops, webinars and customized consultations. Materials from previous workshops and webinars can be found in the “Resources” section of our website. For more information about how we can assist you in your collaborative initiatives please go to www.hclinkontario.ca or give us a call at 1-855-847-1575.

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Changing our Destiny: A Regional Gathering in Timiskaming

Every two years (alternating with our provincial conference), HC Link partners with local communities to design and deliver Regional Gatherings. This year, my colleague Stephanie Massot and I were lucky to work with a dynamic team in Timiskaming to hold a regional gathering there on January 11. The event was a partnership between HC Link, the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board and the City of Temiskaming Shores.

We formed a planning committee in the spring/summer of 2016, and over several months our event took shape. Planning Committee members included Dani Grenier-Ducharme, Tiffany Stowe and Melissa Boivin (District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board) Dan Lavigne (Timiskaming First Nation), Tina Sartoretto (Town of Cobalt), Sylvain Guilbeault (Timiskaming Child Care), Stephanie Masson and I (HC Link). We selected the title “Changing our Destiny: Building a vision for all our communities” to represent the desire to make decisions that affect Timiskaming in Timiskaming. It is a vibrant region, with industry, tourism, a great deal of natural beauty, and--in January--a great deal of snow!

The focus of the event was to create a space for conversation about working together collaboratively to form community hubs in Timiskaming. Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts to dissuade attendance with a snowstorm, 78 people (including planning committee members) attended the gathering! Unfortunately due to cancellation of school buses, the youth that committee members had worked so hard to engage were not able to attend. We had representation from a wide variety of sectors, with a total of 15 different sectors represented. It would be impossible for me to pick just one highlight of the day, as each part of the day was a highlight for me! Instead, I’ll summarize the day for those of you who weren’t able to be there.

art

High school art work from the Indigenous art class, graciously lent to us for the day

We began the day with a traditional smudge and pipe ceremony, drumming and song. Elder Philip Snr Gliddy  told us that these ceremonies show respect and help us start our gathering in a Good Way. Mayors Tina Sarteretto (one of our planning committee members) and Carman Kidd gave opening remarks and Dani Grenier-Ducharme, Children's Services Manager with the District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board, was our fearless Master of Ceremonies for the day.

charles

Charles Cirtwell from the Northern Policy Institute gave a keynote address and spoke about how the North already does community hubs: people in the North have worked together in this way for hundreds of years.  Dr. Cirtwell advised us to have:

  • Flexible thinking: to not constrain the who, how and where of community hubs

  • Flexible funding: funding should promote collaboration, be used for transportation and technology, and as an incentive

  • Flexible doing: blend organizational objectives, knowledge and assets. The goal is for everyone to see that their mandate is being achieved, even if someone else is doing some or even all of the service delivery

Following Dr Cirtwell’s presentation, Stephanie Massot gave a short presentation on partnership and working collaboratively. Melissa Boivin, one of our planning committee members, then led the group in a “Merry-Go Round” exercise to give participants the chance to talk with each other about the ways they currently work together, the challenges and benefits they receive from their work.

I then led a panel discussion to find out how the community hub model is working in four different communities.

Carol McBride is the Director of Health and Social Services at Notre Dame du Nord, Temiskaming First Nation Health Centre. The centre has experienced significant growth from its beginnings in the 90s with 4 employees to its current staff complement of 35. Previously, the centre worked in silos, where people who accessed services did get help but not as much as they needed. When Carol learned about the community hub model, the centre transformed using the Medicine Wheel as its model, with the individual in the middle of the wheel and the Centre providing emotional, physical, mental and spiritual support.

Scirish Panipak is the Vice-President of the Friendship Centre in Parry Sound. That organization will be opening a “bricks and mortar” community hub, focused on community housing, in June. The organization was able to purchase a school to use for non-profit housing, and a priority for them was to keep the gymnasium to use for the community as well as clients and residents. They began to look for community partners to move into the space, and currently have more than they can hold!

Laura Urso from the Best Start Network in Sudbury shared her experiences in this long-standing network of service providers. The network began with agencies that provide like-services, and now they are programming and delivering services together. One of the keys to the success the network has experienced is the designation of a staff-person who is responsible for bringing--and keeping--stakeholders together.

Brent Cicchini is an officer with the Ontario Provincial Police (incidentally, the first time I’ve had a panelist who wore a bullet-proof vest) who has been working with a variety of community partners to address the needs of high-risk youth, with the aim of supporting them before they come into contact with the justice system. There is a good network of services and stakeholders, though meeting can be viewed as being redundant. Brent spoke about the idea of connecting with existing networks/tables, rather than constantly inventing new groups of the same people to talk about different things.

After lunch, Karen Pitre, Special Advisory to the Premier on Community Hubs, joined us via remote technology. Community hubs, explained Karen, are a service delivery model that brings together service providers to offer a range of services that respond to demonstrated community needs and priorities. As our four panelists demonstrated, there is no one formula for a community hub: they can be a bricks and mortar building, a “virtual” hub or a group of service providers working together. There could be as many variations of what a community hub as there are communities in Ontario. One of the key components of a community hub is that they are cross-sectoral, bringing together education and training, health care, children and youth, sport and recreation, social services and a variety of other community partners together.

communityhub

Following Karen’s presentation, participants formed small groups in a Conversation Café designed to help the group discuss how they can work together, in partnership, to support community wellbeing in Timiskaming. The group had a robust discussion, with a group who discussed Indigenous health committing to meet monthly after the gathering to continue their conversation!

It would take me at least another two pages to talk fully about the incredible experience that Stephanie and I had in Timiskaming and the wonderful things about the Regional Gathering itself. We had such a rich experience in working with our planning committee members, our event partners, and our event sponsors Northern College and Presidents Suites. Aside from the experience of being in the north and being at the event itself, another highlight was the excursion to Dani’s farm, where Stephanie rode a horse and I collected eggs. The beauty of the scenery, the warmth of the people, and their dedication to working together will be in my memory for a long time.

You can access the slide decks, videos from the presentations and panel, and more at http://www.hclinkontario.ca/events/regional-gatherings.html/#Timiskaming

chicken

andreasteph

stephhorse

 

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HC Link's 2016 Top Resource Round-up

top2016

Happy New Year! We are looking forward to another exciting year of working together to create healthy communities across Ontario. In case you missed them the first time around, here is a collection of a few of our most popular resources, webinar recordings and blog posts from 2016.

 
popularresources2016
 

Here are a few of our most popular resources of 2016:

 
popularwebinars2016


Here are a few of our most popular webinars of 2016:

 
popularblogs2016
 

Here are a few of our most popular blogs of 2016:

AND our most popular guest blog was by the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH):

continue

We look forward to another great year of working together and continuing to offer our customized consulting services, resources, webinars, workshops, and other learning events! Please contact us to learn more about how we can work with you and your community to meet your specific needs for building healthy communities!

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What does the Task Force’s recommended minimum age of purchasing cannabis at 18 mean for health promoters?

By Kyley Alderson, HC Link

cannabis2imageLast week, HC Link co-hosted a webinar with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) and Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) – Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis: Implications for practice and policy. This webinar was part of a two-part webinar series that covered the methods, findings and implications of CCSA’s recent qualitative research study, Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis. In this second webinar, presenters discussed implications of the research on prevention practice and policy, and featured a panel discussion of youth prevention practitioners – Patricia Scott-Jeoffroy, an Education Consultant with PAD and Cathy Maser, a Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Sick Kids.

frameworkimageHours before our webinar, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation released their highly anticipated report – A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada.

One participant asked the presenters what their thoughts were on the Task Force’s recommendation to set a national minimum age of purchase of cannabis at 18. With limited time to have even read the report, Cathy Maser provided an explanation from the report and opinion that many participants found very helpful. So, for those who have not had a chance to go into the detail of the report, but are curious about this recommendation that has gained a lot of attention – I thought I would share.

Here is a brief summary of what Cathy shared with our participants, and what is stated in the report:

While many health professionals and those in public health are concerned about how the brain is still developing until around age 25, most of those consulted felt that this age was too high to set as the minimum, as many of the issues that legalization is trying to address – such as the illicit market and criminalization, would still persist. Youth who are in the 18-24 age range are in fact the highest users of cannabis, so setting the minimum age at 25 might further criminalize youth. While age 21 was suggested by many, age 18 was decided on because it is the age of majority and provinces and territories can raise the minimum age to align it with the minimum age to purchase alcohol – which from a societal context, seems to make sense. As stressed by Cathy, a key point in this recommendation is the need to align this policy with education, prevention and treatment – with emphasis on robust preventative measures to discourage and delay cannabis use to mitigate the harms between the ages of 18-25, a critical period of brain development.

This is where many of us as health promoters can focus our attention. Given the results from CCSA’s report, and this recommendation from the Task Force, some considerations for minimizing harms to youth include:

• Providing youth with factual, accessible, and non-bias information – talking about potential benefits and real risks/harms (possibly even low-risk cannabis use guidelines)

• Focussing on tangible harms (and those they would experience in the short term versus long term) so that these harms resonate with youth

• Providing health professionals, peer mentors, parents, and others who youth believe are credible sources of information, with the right information/tools/resources to provide the information to youth

• Developing youth critical thinking/decision-making skills, so they are better equipped to make their own decisions

• Building youth resiliency through programs, support, and positive relationships so that they are more capable of avoiding/minimizing harms of cannabis use

• Clear, and consistent messaging across the board – including messaging and information around medical marijuana – as this causes youth to perceive cannabis as less harmful and also leads youth to self-diagnose and self-medicate.

While many of the ways that health promoters can help to minimize the harms to youth listed above are focused around education and skill building, we must not forget about the many other factors at play – the social determinants of health – that cause some youth to disproportionately experience more harms associated with drug use. Factors like poverty, education, social exclusion, etc., all come into play, as they do with almost any other health issue, and cannot be left out of the picture.

 

Link to the Task Force report: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/index-eng.php

Link to the webinar recording and slides: http://www.hclinkontario.ca/events/webinars1.html/#YouthPerceptionsonCannabis2 

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Peer sharing session about online community engagement

By Robyn Kalda, HC Link

On November 23, I facilitated an HC Link peer-sharing webinar on online community engagement. I had the misfortune to lose my internet connection half a dozen times during the session, which is always exciting when one is facilitating -- a huge thank-you to the participants for your patience! And to Andrea Bodkin, HC Link's Coordinator, who stepped in as technical backup.

We left the definition of "online community engagement" open. Whether it's a community that wants to engage online, or an online community that wants to increase engagement, a community is the people involved and not the technology, so it's quite possible to talk about both at once.

We discussed creating a Terms of Reference for an online community -- the difficulty of drafting such a thing before discussing it with potential community members, yet the need for management accountability. The need for flexibility in the document was raised, so that the group can grow and change over time and feel ownership of the community.

Next, people suggested ways to pique people's interest in the community. Relevance was key here: connect people to content and expertise, help them with their work and goals. One participant was running a community that had recently added a feature that allowed users to tag others in discussions if their opinions or expertise would be helpful -- at which point they are emailed a notification, and their response (or lack thereof) is, of course, visible, providing some mild peer pressure to participate.

Participants felt regular updates helped a community both feel and stay active. A monthly newsletter via email, with links back to the community highlighting what's new / hot topics / upcoming events was one great idea, as were occasional face-to-face meetings (if possible).

Thinking about the technology itself, people generally suggested thinking first about what functions the community truly needs and where people are already. Can you start with a plain old email list? Or Facebook? Often, you can. It's easier for people to engage if it doesn't involve learning an entirely new tool.

The issue of moderation was raised. Moderation can be fantastically time-consuming and a source of contention, in my experience, so I suggested avoiding it if at all possible. Others pointed out that group culture, if developed carefully over time, often works well to counter or discourage inappropriate posts. Sometimes supporting people behind the scenes to post and model a desired behaviour -- social support of a good post, or respectful criticism -- can work well to get things going.

We finished by encouraging people to join HC Link's discussion list, Community-Links (http://lists.hclinkontario.ca/listinfo.cgi/community-links-hclinkontario.ca), and to get in touch if they had questions that weren't answered in the peer-sharing session.


Thanks to all the participants!

Here are some of the resources that were shared in the session:

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Taking part in the holiday spirit of giving – Does food charity alleviate hunger?

This is a guest blog post by the Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH).

With the holiday season upon us, charitable food drives are in full swing. It’s easy to throw a can of baked beans, a jar of peanut butter or a box of macaroni & cheese in the food bank bin. But does this really help to reduce hunger in our communities?

To start, let’s clarify some terms. ‘Hunger’ is a feeling of discomfort from not eating enough food.  ‘Food insecurity’ is inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints.  Poverty is the root cause of food insecurity. People experiencing food insecurity:

  • worry about having enough food
  • do not have suitable quality or variety of food, or
  • have reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns due to lack of food. (This extreme is how we commonly use the term ‘hunger’ when we mean severe food insecurity).

Food insecurity is a significant social and public health problem in Ontario.  In 2013, 1.6 million Ontarians or one in eight households did not have enough money to buy food. Click here for more information on how food insecurity is defined and measured in Canada.

How have communities responded to the problem of food insecurity?

With the gradual erosion of social programs, a variety of community-based charitable food programs have emerged. There are now food banks in every province and territory, with a network of almost 5,000 emergency food programs including food banks, soup kitchens and various meal and snack programs.

Food charity is very much a part of the problem of food insecurity in rich societies. While charitable food programs may provide short-term relief of hunger, they do not reduce food insecurity at all. Food charity is ineffective due to the following reasons:

  • undermines people’s dignity
  • has limited reach – 3 out of 4 food insecure households do not go to food banks
  • has limited operating hours and restricts the number of visits and the amount of food provided
  • does not meet people’s daily need for nutritious food

Food insecurity is a symptom of an income problem; it is not a problem that can be solved by redistribution of food by charities no matter how much we try to build better food banks. In fact, food banks are counterproductive because their existence creates the illusion that food insecurity is being taken care of in the community.  We’ve become so conditioned to raising more money and getting more food on to food bank shelves that we lose sight of poverty being the root cause of food insecurity. The prevalence of food charity allows governments to neglect their obligations to ensure income security for Canadians, leaving community-based charities attempting to fill the gap.

The media perpetuates this problem by drawing attention to food drives. By packaging a food drive as an integral part of the festive season, food insecurity is framed as an issue for charity, not politics, strengthening the public perception that food charity is acceptable, necessary and adequate to address the problem of food insecurity. High profile, public food drives use messaging that reinforces the notion that food charity makes a difference in the lives of those living with food insecurity. Calling on the public to participate in food drives in an effort to ‘give back to the community’, ‘join the fight against hunger’ and ‘participate in the spirit of holiday cheer’ feeds into the age-old philosophical ideal of feeding the hungry. High profile community members, such as politicians or celebrities, are often used to reinforce these messages and create a bigger media story.

If food charity is not the solution to food insecurity, then what is?

All sectors have a role to play in promoting income security as an effective response to food insecurity.

The media could focus on supporting campaigns and covering news stories raising awareness about the root cause of food insecurity, which is poverty, such as on implementing a basic income guarantee, a living wage, and affordable housing and child care policies.      

Individuals, community groups, and organizations can support ‘up-stream’ efforts, such as:

  • Becoming a member of, donating to, or volunteering with Basic Income Canada Network
  • Donating or volunteering with national, provincial or local poverty reduction advocacy groups, such as Make Poverty History or Canada Without Poverty  
  • Donating to or becoming a member of food advocacy groups, such as Food Secure Canada
  • Contacting or meeting with local politicians at all levels about their concerns with the food charity response to food insecurity and the potential benefits of a basic income guarantee
  • Supporting campaigns and signing petitions for adequate income security, affordable social housing and child care, enhanced mental health services, and development of national and provincial food policies

Federal and provincial governments must consider policy options that will enhance income security and reduce poverty levels to alleviate food insecurity.

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The Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health (OSNPPH) is the independent and official voice of Registered Dietitians working in Ontario’s public health system. OSNPPH provides leadership in public health nutrition by promoting and supporting member collaboration to improve the health of Ontario residents through the implementation of the Ontario Public Health Standards.

The OSNPPH Food Security Workgroup has developed a position statement (and French translation) and an accompanying infographic (and French translation) to increase awareness about the growing problem of household food insecurity in Ontario and the urgent need to advocate for effective responses. Since its release, the Position Statement has received official endorsements from these organizations and individuals. If you would like to endorse the Position Statement, please complete the form available here.

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What should we do? Reflections from the Vision Zero Summit

 

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’sVision Zero Summiton November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’sVision Zeroapproach andParachute’s Canadianapproach.

Part of the afternoon session at the Vision Zero Summit was a panel discussion called “Vision Zero in Action”. The panel included speakers from Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto and focussed on what each city is doing towards realizing Vision Zero. One of the panelists was Greg Hart from Safer Calgary. Greg’s perspective was an interesting one as Safer Calgary is not part of the municipality; rather they are an outside agency working with the city of Calgary.  The Safer Calgary coalition is an alliance of individuals and groups that have a common interest of decreasing the potential for preventable harm and death in the city of Calgary.

Greg began his presentation by reminding us (as many speakers have today) that distracted driving is a huge challenge on our roads. There are four states in the US where texting is legal- but in the rest of the states, bans on texting have not reduced the number of distracted driving charges and fatalities. Why is that? Greg says this is because of our tendency to blame individuals for their behaviour. “He should know better than to text and drive because he’ll get a ticket” or “she should look both ways before crossing the street or she’ll get into an accident”. Statements that involve the word “should”, says Greg, raise a red flag. This is because in our brains, should statements – which are statements about our behaviour- are connected to punishment, as in my two examples above. To which our brains say, “…if I get caught”. We think that we’ll evade capture, we’ll escape an accident, that our actions won’t kill someone. Because we believe that we are smarter than we are.

VZ 2

The reality is that we’re not as smart as we think that we are. We think that we can pay attention all of the time, that we can multi-task and do all tasks equally well. This is not true. This is in part because of the role that our unconscious mind plays in our decision making. We make decisions based environmental cues that we’re not consciously processing.

Instead of thinking “should”, says Greg, we should rely on the design of our roads to guide the behaviour of the majority of road users, leaving enforcement for the 10% of underperforming road users. For example, Greg told us about an intersection in Calgary that had installed automatic ticketing, which resulted in $11 M in fines. There are two ways to view this: first that we take the money and fuel it into safety interventions or public transit etc. The second way is to realize that obviously, the intersection needs to be designed in such a way that $11 M dollars of laws are not broken. We need to create successful situations so that we criminalize fewer people and have fewer injuries and deaths.

visionzero

I am positive that I am not doing Greg enough justice with this summary of his presentation. And frankly, I wish he could have spoken for at least an hour! Please visit the Safer Calgary website to learn more.

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths
Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero
Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

Public Health and Vision Zero: What role do we have to play?

Working toward Zero—together

Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Websitehttp://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Parachute’s Vision Zero Websitehttp://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero



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Recap: Canada’s Vision Zero Summit 2016

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

We’re just wrapping up a terrific day at Parachute Canada’s Vision Zero Summit (#VZSummit).

After opening words from Parachute’s Pamela Fuselli (@PFuselli), City Councillor Jaye Robinson (@JayeRobinson), who is Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, spoke with both optimism and determination about Toronto’s progress towards Vision Zero. Some highlights: “watch your speed” signs near schools, red-light cameras at 79 priority locations, a plan to double bike infrastructure (hurray!), and a massive education campaign beginning in 2017. She noted that Vision Zero has had strong – and much appreciated -- support from the media.

A panel on Vision Zero around the world followed, moderated by Dr. Ian Pike. Dr. Pike enumerated five key areas for laws that help reduce road deaths: speed, drunk driving, helmets, seatbelts, and required child restraints.

Dr Mats-Åke Belin, speaking via video from Sweden and by a previously recorded presentation, noted that Vision Zero is a scientific, systematic approach to safety, putting responsibility on professionals instead of blaming road users. Implementation isn’t one-size-fits-all, however; and as more countries adopt the approach, we can learn from each other.

Dr. David Sleet spoke from his experience at the Centres for Disease Control in the US, noting that on the list of public health achievements of 20th century, #10 was advances in road safety: road safety is the intersection of transport and public health. As Europe saw 50% a reduction in alcohol-related and 47% in non-alcohol related road deaths over 10 years, he said, Vision Zero can be a philosophy, useful in keeping people’s eyes on the eventual goal of zero deaths. Implementation requires goals & targets to be set, the use of evidence-based strategies, and mechanisms to assess impact. Examples of interventions included rumble strips (which reduce run-off-road crashes by 40%) and graduated licensing, in particular reducing the number of passengers allowed in cars driven by new drivers. Each city’s mayor must commit to endorsing #VisionZero, among other requirements for designation – an interesting indicator!

Ian Grossman (@AAMVAConnection) from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (the body that represents US and Canadian driver authorities) spoke about the Toward Zero Deaths document (the US strategy on highway safety) and the Road to Zero Coalition. Toward Zero Deaths is a data-driven approach, with proven countermeasures listed in the report. Areas of emphasis in the report include drivers & passengers, vulnerable users, vehicles, infrastructure, emergency medical services, and safety management. He noted that trying to shift safety culture is the big game-changer: of course it isn’t easy, but it has been done – for example, motorbike helmets. He encouraged everyone to explore the clearinghouse for initiatives at http://www.towardzerodeaths.org/resources/.

A question came up at the end of the panel: What should Canada do? Something at the national level? At the provincial level? City level? Answer: Yes, yes, and yes.

Ned Levitt of Parachute’s Board challenged everyone – in memory of his 18-year-old daughter, who was hit by a car while out running and died -- to never give up the fight for safer roads.

An award was presented to the Ambassador of Sweden, Per Sjögren, to recognize Sweden’s lead on Vision Zero.

The next panel, moderated by Dr. Marie-Soleil Cloutier, covered the Canadian road safety environment.

Christine Le Grand of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators talked about Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025. It focuses on a number of specific risk groups as well as the general population. A database of safety measures that have been proven or are promising is available at http://crss-2025.ccmta.ca/en/road-safety-measures.

The Canadian Urban Institute’s Glenn Miller (@CANURB) focused on seniors and mobility, because Canada is aging: 1 in 6 Canadians is over 65, and it will be 1 in 4 by 2041. The safety of all roles -- drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and people using mobility devices – is important (although he noted that cyclists mostly forgotten when talking about seniors' safety). The Age Friendly Communities initiative aims to reduce the need for seniors to drive. They define mobility as the ability to travel SAFELY where and when you want.

Tony Churchill (@CARSInfo), from the Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals, gave us a spoiler alert: Vision Zero is NOT about cyclists and pedestrians, but about all road users. We need to make sure messaging reaches everyone, because people ARE traffic. Semantics are important: accidents vs. collisions, aspirational vs. realistic, target/goal vs. vision….

Finally, Traffic Injury Research Foundation President and CEO Robyn Robertson (@TIRFCanada) named drugs, distraction, and automated vehicles as the three priority road issues for the next decade. Drivers testing positive for alcohol have declined in recent years, but positive drug tests have increased. Issues in implementing drug-impaired driving interventions include both the complexity of the science and popular misconceptions about the riskiness of the behaviour. TIRF’s drug-impaired driving learning centre will be available in December. Distracted driving kills about 300 people per year in Canada, especially 20-34-year-olds; a national strategy is coming in January.

The after-lunch panel was moderated by Linda Rothman and talked on a more practical level about what Vision Zero efforts are happening in Canada.

Gerry Shimko from the Office of Traffic Safety in Edmonton opened the panel. Edmonton was the first city in Canada to approve Vision Zero as their road safety strategy in their 2016-2020 plan. Targeted implementations, including right- and left-hand turn alterations, have helped Edmonton reduce road injuries from 8200 in 2006 to 3800 in 2015. At one intersection there used to be 35 crashes a year and that has now dropped to only two. “You have to do something illegal to crash there now,” he said.

Roger Browne, Manager of the City of Toronto Traffic Safety Unit Toronto talked about Toronto’s new five-year, $80M road safety plan. It has six primary emphasis areas with specific countermeasures proposed for each: pedestrians, school children, older adults, cyclists, aggressive drivers & distraction, and motorcyclists. Many agencies were partners in creating the plan as part of a large working group – again, a theme of the day; virtually all successful Vision Zero efforts involve large, diverse partnerships or coalitions. Organizational transformation inside the City is key: there must be a fundamental shift from an opportunistic to a strategic approach. They also changed focus. Since 74% of fatalities were vulnerable road users over past 5 years, it made sense to focus on these serious crashes instead of on routine fender-benders. Browne’s key lessons: 1. Be data driven. 2. Be more strategic than opportunistic. 3. Leverage existing resources.

Greg Hart (@GregsThinking) of Safe Calgary talked a lot about the word “should” and how it’s a red flag. "Should" is a product of attention & willpower: to do something you “should” do, you must be paying attention AND have the necessary willpower, interest to act. But both attention and willpower are extremely limited, much more limited than we think, and so decisions about driving are made based on environmental cues you're not consciously processing. Instead, we need to use a high emphasis on design. Enforcement should be for the lowest-performing 10% of users because design should ensure normal users do the right thing. Since people who feel vulnerable drive more carefully, design can incorporate features that make people feel more vulnerable: novel, variable, ambiguous, complex, unauthorized, proximal, opaque…. In Calgary they are aiming for safe and smooth mobility for everybody. Smooth means presenting design so people do the safe thing -- you create more successful situations so we criminalize fewer people and have fewer injuries.

The working part of the day wrapped up with a forward-looking charrette session led by the George Brown Institute Without Boundaries to get people to tease out thoughts about actions, drivers of change, and more. They’ll pull the results into a report for Parachute.

The day ended with a very welcome reception – let’s hope everyone made good plans to #GetHomeSafe!

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

Public health and Vision Zero: what role do we have to play?

Working toward zero - together

What should we do? Reflections from the Vision Zero Summit

 

Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Website

Parachute’s Vision Zero Website

 

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Working Towards Zero -- Together

 
This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

It struck me that the first panel at the Vison Zero Summit this morning was really about partnership. Partnership, of course, is a topic dear to the hearts of health promoters everywhere, so to hear its critical importance emphasized by speakers as varied as City Councillor and Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, Jaye Robinson, event sponsor, State Farm, and transportation experts from Sweden and the USA was heartening indeed.

To reach zero road deaths, we need a collective effort. Every speaker this morning was clear: transport experts, planners, public health, educators, and all levels of government -- city, province, national (and even beyond) -- even car companies -- need to work together. Just as cooperation at every level was necessary for the near-elimination of polio worldwide, so too will it be necessary for Vision Zero to succeed.

Ian Grossman (@AAMVAConnection), of the Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, talked about the challenge they had in the US getting transport people and public health into the same room when they were working on the reaching consensus while working on the Toward Zero Deaths report (http://www.towardzerodeaths.org/). Then they needed to decide whether to include only the small interventions that they knew would lead to large changes in road deaths or to have an all-inclusive document including smaller contributors to change, so that everyone could see themselves in the report. The all-inclusive approach won out and (as well as the report) they created an online database of resources and interventions (http://www.towardzerodeaths.org/resources/) at all levels, available to anyone.

Near the end of the session there was a question: What should Canada do? Should we work nationally? provincially? At the city level? The answer: Yes, yes, yes. We have to work at all levels, together, to reach zero road deaths – because one is too many.
 
This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero
 
 
Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?
Sweden’s Vision Zero Website http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/
Parachute’s Vision Zero Website http://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero
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Public Health and Vision Zero: What role do we have to play?

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

Today I’m live tweeting and blogging from Parachute’s Vision Zero Summit. It’s not quite 11 am but already I’m on fire for Vision Zero and everything that it stands for. In particular, I’m really reflecting on the role that public health can play within an initiative such as Vision Zero. Today’s conference opened with a video address by Dr Matts-Ake Belin from Sweden, where Vision Zero originates. Dr Belin proposed that public health and Vision Zero take opposite approaches: that public health starts with a problem that needs to be solved and applies intervention to address the problem, whereas Vision Zero starts with the vision of what needs to be achieved. Dr David Sleet, formerly from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and now a consultant, spoke about the role for public health in Vision Zero. Dr Sleet believes that traffic injuries and deaths are the number one public health issue of our time. Advances in road safety is listed as #10 on the CDC’s list of 10 Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.

Dr Sleet asked the audience who among us work in public health. While about 10 percent of the audience raised their hands, Dr Sleet told us that today, we all work in public health because what we are doing here at the Vision Zero Summit is public health’s mandate the save lives and prevent deaths. Dr Sleet proposes that public health approach road safety in the same way as we do infectious diseases- like infection disease on wheels- by bringing the epidemiological and education lenses that we apply to outbreaks such as e-coli and Zika. In fact public health has a history of initiatives that focus on reducing to zero, such as polio.
 
VZ 1

While fellow panelist Ian Grossman from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators stated that one of the challenges in the US has been to form connections between those who work in road safety and public health, here in Ontario public health professionals are used to working intersectorally and making a difference in their communities.  While there is a role for public health, Dr Sleet stated that Vision Zero should be everyone’s vision and should involve every sector.

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero
 
Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Website http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/
Parachute’s Vision Zero Website http://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero
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Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach.

Vision Zero involves planning, designing and building roads and infrastructure to increase safety and reduce fatal accidents. Vision Zero believes that safety aspects must be built into the system and included when planning new infrastructure projects. The ultimate goal is to build roads and infrastructure that meet capacity and environmental challenges without compromising traffic safety.

In 2008, Montreal set a goal of reducing serious accidents by 40 per cent over 10 years. Between 2003 and 2015, the island of Montreal has seen the number of accidents causing injury or death drop by 26 per cent, to 5,203 accidents. In roughly the same period, the population has grown by four per cent, the number of cars by 12.5 per cent, and the number of people who cycle regularly has doubled, rising to 116,000 a day. Montreal’s Vision Zero plan pledges to:

  • expand photo radar speeding sectors to eight from the current five
  • reduce speed limits on certain main streets to 40 kilometres per hour
  • reduce limits on local roads to 30 km/h (where boroughs accept the change)
  • update traffic lights
  • further improve security measures at 57 of the city’s underpasses, in some cases by adding cycling lanes
  • mandate city standing committees to study the idea of prohibiting trucks of a certain size from driving in heavily populated areas, or limiting the hours when they can make deliveries
  • look into having reserved bus-taxi lanes that can also accommodate bicycles, which is presently illegal under the highway code in most cases
  • increase the number of bike boxes, putting cyclists ahead of vehicles at intersections; installing priority lights for cyclists; adding cycle lanes and boosting knowledge of the dangers of dooring.

What happens however, on existing streets, where these changes have yet to take affect? As a full-time cycle commuter in a large and busy city, I know what it’s like to bike in an environment that’s not built to keep me safe. At times like these, vulnerable road users take matters into their own hands to try to make the environment safer.

One of my favourite examples of this is Warren Huska, who Toronto cyclists have dubbed “Noodle Man” after media attention in Toronto and internationally. A year and a half ago Ontario introduced Bill 31, which requires drivers to keep at least 1 metre between the motor vehicle and the bicycle when passing cyclists on Ontario roads, where possible. Despite a $110 set fine and two demerit points, few motorists are following the law. Warren took the law into his own hands by attaching a pool noodle to the back of his bike, a visual representation of the 1 meterpassing law.  Effectively, Warren makes his own bike lane where there is no bike lane, resulting in motorists giving him the space the law requires. Warren’s desperate move has hit a nerve, as the 1 million + hits to the Toronto Star video showing Warren’s noodle hack attests. Warren hopes that his pool noodle will keep the conversation about cycling safety going and influence the thinking of motorists. Colin Browne, a spokesman for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, quoted in a Washington Post article about Warren,  says “it’s frustrating that we’re relying on hacks from cyclists when really it’s a driver behavior problem,” Browne said. “The law (in Washington) says to pass beyond three feet. You shouldn’t have to attach a pool noodle to the back of your bike to make people do that.”

Warren

Photo from the Toronto Star Toronto Star

This is where initiatives like Vision Zero should come in. If the built environment makes the safe choice the only choice, wouldn’t this increase the chances of everyone using roads safely? While Colin Brown applauds Huska’s homespun approach, he said cyclists really need more bike lanes and off-road trails, more physical buffers between them and cars, and better police enforcement of safe-passing laws.

I consulted my fellow cyclists to find out how they try to be safe when the built environment doesn’t support safe cycling. 

Many of them shared stories of being passed to closely by car drivers and lack of enforcement – or even awareness- of Bill 31 by police officers. Jess Spieker shared her terrifying story of being T-boned by a car driver at an intersection in an area that has no bicycle infrastructure. In addition to safer infrastructure, Jess is calling for a Vulnerable User Road Law which would have car drivers sentenced appropriately. 

Chloé Rose bikes through parks even though there are perfectly good (if more dangerous) roads beside said parks, or adding kilometers to her route because it's safer than going straight along an arterial road. Not only does this add time onto cycling journeys, this also directly impacts businesses located on main arterials who lose out on having cyclists as a customers. Other cyclists take advantage of flex hours, changing the times of day where they travel in order to avoid high traffic times.

Another unfortunate side effect of lack of safe infrastructure is that cyclists resort to “illegal” measures such as riding on the sidewalk or riding the wrong way down one way side streets (salmoning) because it feels safer. Says Toronto cyclist Gerry Brown “my belief in the ability of Vision Zero to reduce road injuries and deaths is because of its focus on design changes that will make people do that. I have very little faith in our ability to change behaviour with education and PR campaigns, but with sound and proven design changes we can make everyone safer.”

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Looking to learn more about Vision Zero?

Sweden’s Vision Zero Website http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Parachute’s Vision Zero Website http://www.parachutecanada.org/visionzero

Montreal’s Vision Zero Plan https://mairedemontreal.ca/en/vision-zero-commitment-pedestrian-and-cyclist-safety

Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 website features a Road Safety Measures Database

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Why I’m SO EXCITED about Vision Zero

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This post is part of a blog series leading up to Canada’s Vision Zero Summit on November 29, 2016. Learn more about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach and Parachute’s Canadian approach. 

On November 29th, my colleague Robyn Kalda and I will be attending Canada’s Vision Zero Summit in Toronto as part of the Social Media Team. We’ll be live tweeting and blogging away and sharing the learnings from this national conference. As health promoters, it makes sense that we’d believe that our roads should be safe for all road users: pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers/occupants. As proponents of healthy communities we believe in the many benefits that occur when people can walk, bike, roll and dance through their communities. So of course we love Vision Zero’s philosophy: that no one should be killed or seriously injured within the road transport system.

On a personal level though, I’m excited about Vision Zero because I want to live.

Yes, it may sound dramatic. And also, hopeful……because I am a vulnerable road user. I live in Toronto, where I am a full-time cycle commuter (10 months of the year) and daily pedestrian. The reality is, in the city that I live in, that the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths is just shy of the homicide rate. In the first 6 months of 2016, there were more than 1,000 cyclists and pedestrians hit on Toronto streets. I once met a Toronto cyclist that referred to her daily commute as “my daily meditation on death”. I do have at least one “OMG” moment every commute, and what I’d call a close call once or twice a week. Even as a pedestrian, I’m scared. One of the most dangerous parts of my regular walk to various errands is a pedestrian crossing- you know, the one with the flashing lights where, by law, car drivers and cyclists are supposed to stop and stay stopped until I’ve reached the sidewalk on the other side? I’m nearly struck by a car driver at least half of the occasions that I use that crossing.

cycling

My sister and me (left) cycling on the Bloor Viaduct during Open Streets Toronto.

Given all of that, why do I risk my life every day just to move around the city? Well, I’ll bet you can guess some of the reasons. Cycling to work is more convenient and less costly that taking public transit. I get 40 minutes of physical activity every day just by going to work! I arrive at work flushed, with my blood pumping and brain working. It makes me smile to speed past the cars in traffic and whiz down hills. I recently purchased aBike Share membership and I giggle every time I’m on one of those bikes, they are so big and stable and Mary Poppins like. It’s amazing what cyclists will put up with just to get that daily dose of biking awesomeness. Once you try it, you will never go back.

That is also one of the challenges- getting people to try it. And one of the ways to get people to try cycling is to make it as safe and convenient as possible. That’s where Vision Zero comes in. One of the things that I love about Vision Zero is that it is a comprehensive approach that addresses:

  • Reducing impaired driving
  • Implementing safer speed limits
  • Increasing the use of seatbelts
  • Introducing safer car design
  • Improving road infrastructure
  • Enhancing pedestrian and cyclist safety

In a Vision Zero community, there is advocacy for policy change, enhanced regulation, road infrastructure changes and information is provided about dangers of risk factors. The Vision Zero philosophy is one of shared responsibility between those that design the roads and those that use the roads.  The emphasis is on designing streets that result in the behaviour that you want to see, rather than simply trying to legislated and enforce behaviour change. By remembering that all road users are humans- and therefore make mistakes- we can engineer around mistakes and therefore avoid them.

visionzero

Screen capture from http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

Vision Zero in Canada

Vision Zero began in Sweden, where it’s had astonishing success. Vision Zero is starting to make inroads in North America, including several Canadian cities:

In Toronto, the city’s Road Safety Plan includes the Vision Zero vision to reduce the number of road fatalities and serious injuries to zero, with an initial target of reducing fatalities by 20% by 2026. I hope that next week’s Vision Zero Summit will help to shift this target!

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

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Vision Zero: No more road deaths

What's more important: letting cars move quickly, or keeping everyone (inside and outside cars) safe? Is risk of death or injury the price we have to pay for mobility? As health promoters, we see injury prevention (as well as pollution and healthy neighbourhoods) as a key component of healthy communities, and road safety as surely something worthy of serious design efforts that mitigate danger. The international Vision Zero movement agrees.

"No loss of life is acceptable. In every situation a person might fail -- the road system should not. This is the core principle of the Vision Zero concept." -- http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

In essence, Vision Zero works to design transportation systems that compensate for human error. Whatever mistake you might make as an imperfect and distractable human, the systems around you should protect you. It's an approach that puts much more emphasis on design and much less on the behaviour of the system's users. When health promoters talk about lifestyle issues we often say "make the healthy choice the easy choice" -- it's easy to see how Vision Zero is doing exactly that.

On November 29, HC Link Coordinator Andrea Bodkin and I are excited to be covering the Vision Zero Summit on social media. Organized by Parachute, the Summit will look at how Vision Zero is being implemented in Canada, drawing on examples from Canada and beyond. Watch for our tweets and blog posts!

As Edmonton, which was the first Canadian city to officially adopt Vision Zero, says:

"Why should you get behind Vision Zero?

We all want our loved ones to get home safely."

HC Link’s blog series on Vision Zero

Vision Zero: No more road deaths

Why I’m SO Excited about Vision Zero

Vision Zero’s approach to infrastructure: Making mobility safe from the start

More information:

Vision Zero (Sweden)

Vision Zero Canada

Parachute Canada - Vision Zero

Canada's Vision Zero Summit

Summit hashtag: #VZSummit

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Working together in a Good Way

By Stephanie Massot, HC Link

Last month in partnership with Timiskaming Best Start, HC Link delivered a webinar called ‘What we are doing in a good way: A cultural competency framework model’. Working in a ‘Good Way’ means doing things in a principled, holistic way with kindness, caring, patience and, respect and is a term commonly used by many First Nations and Métis to describe a way of thinking, being and doing that is rooted in Indigenous values.i During the preparations for the webinar, the Indigenous women I worked with taught me what it looks and feels like to approach a webinar in a Good Way.

For instance, holding meetings in a Good Way meant that our conversations went at a comfortable pace and were not rushed. This usually meant that meetings took longer than the time we had planned for and as a result I started to leave an hour available after each meeting in case that time was needed for further discussion. I valued having that flexibility in my own work schedule because I learned that when there is an opportunity to circle back and work in a non-linear way, more ideas are heard and new developments can emerge.

When working with Algonquin Elder, Grandma Marilyn, I learned that she wanted to smudgeii while drumming. As she says in the Implementation Toolkit for the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework, “Be aware of the frame of mind you’re in, not having negative thoughts: the smudge and the drum are there at the start for a reason, to calm us down.” We learned that the fire code of the building where Grandma Marilyn and the other presenters were supposed to gather would not allow for smudging and so another meeting space was found and we planned for other tech checks to occur there. As well, a smudging is typically never filmed. However, Grandma Marilyn offered to have a smudging she was doing in the community be filmed before the webinar and we included that as a video during the beginning and ending ceremonies of the webinar.

Opening and ending a webinar with an Elder was a powerful experience. In the community, Grandma Marilyn usually has from sunrise to sunset to sing and drum and is not constrained by the timelines of a webinar. Grandma Marilyn and her team of helpers practiced to ensure that everyone felt comfortable for the webinar and that all attendees would be able to participate in these ceremonies for Giving Thanks. Grandma Marilyn shared her wisdom with everyone and helped us all connect to each other even though we were all virtually attending. Participants from the webinar shared how they felt more interconnected with everyone and were thankful for this experience. Captured in the image below is Elder Protocol/Etiquette that should be considered if you would like to ask an Elder from your community to join an event that you are organising.

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This handout was developed as a promotional tool highlighting key elements of the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework.
To download a copy of the Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework go to http://www.timiskamingbeststart.ca/resources_en.html.


The presenters encouraged all attendees to drop in, say hi and have a coffee at the band offices of local Indigenous communities. I also learned from the team that learning and using the language of the people you are working with shows respect for the language and culture. I learned that Chi-miigwetch means “big” or extra special thanks in Ojibwe and followed the advice of one of the presenters and started to use it wherever I would consider saying thank you – in my meetings, emails and the webinar. As a settler on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, I learned so much about working in a Good Way and I can’t say miigwetch enough to everyone who taught me during this webinar.

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i Chansonneuve, D. & Hache, A. (2016). Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Framework Implementation Planning Guide. Page 3.

ii Native Women’s Centre (2008). Traditional Teachings Handbook. Page 7.

 

 

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Improving Primary Health Care by Reducing Stigma – Webinar Summary

By Jewel Bailey, CAMH Health Promotion Resource Centre


The stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness and substances use challenges experience on a daily basis can lead them to avoid seeking help. When it occurs in a primary healthcare setting it can be felt even more deeply, and can have especially negative effects.

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Primary healthcare providers can play a key role—they can cause stigma or be powerful agents against stigmatization.

In 2010, the CAMH Office of Transformative Global Health (OTGH) partnered with three Toronto-based Community Health Centres to develop and implement an anti-stigma, pro-recovery intervention among primary healthcare providers. On September 29, 2016, the CAMH Provincial System Support Program and OTGH hosted a webinar: “Improving Primary Health Care by Reducing Stigma.”

This webinar explored:

  • the development of the anti-stigma, pro-recovery project

  • the components of the intervention;

  • changes in attitudes and behaviours of the providers who took part in the pilot project.

The presenters were:

  • Akwatu Khenti, Director, OTGH, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research

  • Jaime Sapag, Project Scientist, OTGH, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research

  • Sireesha Bobbili, Special Advisor/Project Coordinator, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research


Watch the webinar and see the presentation slides

 

 

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Q: What do SFPY Program Families and the Toronto Blue Jays have in common?

By Jane McCarthy, Parent Action on Drugs

 

A: RESILIENCY!

Photo credit: Mark Blinch/Canadian Press

bluejaysAs the Toronto Blue Jays recently headed into the post-season with a series of phenomenal wins on the heels of a dreadful September performance, we heard the word, “resilient,” used to describe them. The media used it, colour commentators used it and even the players, when interviewed after the big Wild Card Game win attributed their come-back to being a “resilient” team. We heard it again after taking down the favoured Texas Rangers in three straight, high-drama games. You can knock’em down and just before you count them out, they bounce back better than before! That... is resiliency... in elite sports.

Resiliency to bounce back from adversity of a far more “real word” and uninvited nature, is something we all need to acquire to reach our peak potential. Youth in particular need to be equipped with the ability to cope with less than ideal situations, problem solve and learn from experiences to successfully and safely navigate their way through the ups and downs of life. Research shows that a resilient youth is less likely to become involved in problems such as substance use, gambling or other anti-social behaviours. But, like the Blue Jays, they can’t do it alone. Developing skills from within to build self-esteem, to be your best self, and to stay positive, all components of resiliency, must be paired with external support.

I believe the fact that the Blue Jays had an entire country rallying around them, not something experienced by any other team, gave them an extra boost in their confidence and will to persevere despite the odds, injuries and seemingly insurmountable September slump. For youth, their families, peers, schools and communities are highly influential in helping them become resilient, believing in themselves and making healthier choices regardless of what life throws at them.

sfpy logo 2Parent Action on Drug’s Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SPFY) program is an excellent opportunity for both parents and their teens to become resilient as a team and as individuals. While there are external forces beyond the family, the program focuses on strengthening the most direct relationship, that of parent and child. SFPY is a nine-week skill-building program for families to raise resilient youth. The program takes a ‘whole family’ approach that helps parents and teens (12-16 years) to develop trust and mutual respect. It is a shortened, adapted version of the 14-week Strengthening Families Program (SFP) developed by Dr. Karol Kumpfer of the University of Utah.

If you are with an organization that works with youth and families interested in promoting healthy outcomes, consider implementing the SFPY program now. Through the SFPY curriculum (and optional support package) your organization will provide families with a complete research-based approach to improving parent-teen relationships, and to helping youth build resilience that will support good decision making and mental health.

Resiliency just may lead the Blue Jays to championship success this year, but it will certainly lead parents and youth to realizing peak performance in family functioning and pursuing lifetime success in whatever is meaningful to them!

For more information on programs and resources for parents and youth on substance misuse prevention visit www.parentactionondrugs.org and www.parentactionpack.ca

 

 

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Healthy Kids Community Challenge: “Water Does Wonders”

By Robyn Kalda, HC Link

As a member of the Healthy Kids Resource Centre, HC Link is proud to support the Healthy Kids Community Challenge program. This program promotes children’s health by focusing on a healthy start in life, healthy food, and healthy active communities. After nearly a year on the first theme of the program “Run. Jump. Play. Every Day.”, in July the 45 participating communities launched into the second theme, “Water Does Wonders”.

 
waterdoeswonders


The principal message of this theme is to encourage kids to drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages when they are thirsty. Sugar-sweetened beverages are completely unnecessary as part of a healthy diet. The Heart and Stroke Foundation says:

“Consuming too much sugar is associated with heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.”

How can we encourage children (and their families) to drink more water, and to drink water instead of sugary drinks? The 45 participating communities have lots of ideas.

A popular idea is distributing reusable water bottles to kids. A number of communities encouraged families to photograph themselves with their reusable water bottles while engaging in various physical activities, and to share their photos on social media.

When one has a reusable water bottle, it’s important to be able to refill it. To fill this need, various communities are installing refill stations.

As another idea to illustrate “Water Does Wonders” for health, in the summer various communities sponsored free swims – water in enormous quantity!

For other participating communities, clean, drinkable, safe water is not easily available. In these communities, participants are working to improve access to clean water as a necessary co-requisite to encouraging children to drink more water.

Follow the participating communities on Twitter in English #HealthyKidsON and #IChooseTapWater and in French #enfantsensanteON.

 

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Happiness Matters

By Rebecca Byers, HC Link

It’s about this time of year that we at HC Link start thinking about plans for our next conference. So when I received an invitation to attend an event hosted by the National Speakers Bureau, I decided that listening to six inspiring people over breakfast refreshments would be a great way to spend the morning (and the refreshments were delicious!).

JenMoss2One of the speakers was Jennifer Moss. Jennifer is the Cofounder and Chief Communications Officer of Plasticity Labs, a Waterloo-based research and technology company that is on a mission to give 1 billion people the tools to live a happier, higher-performing life. The company’s software measures employee’s social/emotional intelligence and harnesses this valuable data to improve psychological fitness. Jennifer speaks and writes in the areas of positive psychology, psychological fitness, emotional intelligence and positive habit building.

I’ve been reading a lot about positive psychology and gratitude lately and so was keen to hear what Jennifer had to say. She spoke about the impact of happiness in our world and workplaces and presented a number of thought-provoking trends, stats and stories to illustrate her message. Here a few of the interesting perspectives I took away from her talk:

  • There is some confusion and debate over the meaning and importance of happiness in our lives. The problem is that people don’t know what happiness means to them. Happiness is not the absence of suffering but the ability to bounce back from it. As we improve our psychological fitness and emotional intelligence, we are better able to recognize happiness when it is in front of us.

  • Millennials are the largest generation in history and are driving change to societal and workforce culture and norms. They are making employers pay closer attention to things like work-life balance, workplace happiness and our work-life continuum.

  • A number of successful organizations have identified a clear connection between employee (and organizational) productivity and their workplace culture and perks to support employee well-being and happiness. In fact, after a 4-year study, Google found that their innovation can be attributed to these “nice” things.

  • Over-stimulation from constant digital connection leads to stress and affects our mental health. This can be countered by building up our psychological fitness and emotional intelligence (through things like mindfulness and practicing gratitude) which help protect us from these stressors in the workplace and in life.

  • Having stuff can make us feel comforted and happy but we are starting to see “enoughism” (love this term and have ordered the book from the library!). Acquiring things (like cars and homes) is not part of the new generation’s desires. But when they do make purchases, young people want to connect with a brand that has social consciousness and is doing good things (think: TOM shoes, Lululemon, Whole Foods).

JenMoss
 

In her wrap-up, Jennifer shared a moving personal story of the power of positivity, gratitude and happiness which was the beginning of her journey in this work. In closing, she told us that “Happiness is a choice and is fundamental in how we think about or lives. I choose happiness.”

The other five speakers were equally engaging and while I’m not sure I made any headway in conference planning, I definitely left with my mind abuzz with ideas and a list of further reading!

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Investigating Youth Sport as a Place to Promote Youth Substance Use Prevention


By Jane McCarthy, Parent Action on Drugs (PAD)

kidsandsports
It would seem keeping kids busy in youth sport would lead to healthier outcomes including lowering the risk for youth substance use. But...that may or may not be the case...

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) recently concluded in their report, Youth Sport Programs that Address Substance Use—An Environmental Scan, there is very little evidence, particularly in Canada, as to the whether or not participation in sport is an effective tool in fostering youth substance use prevention. This is not to say youth sport doesn’t promote positive behaviour, it’s just that we can’t say for sure one way or the other.

So, in terms of published research, we can say that the jury is out on how effective youth participation in sport is in preventing or at least reducing substance use. Time to move on from organized sports as a promotion and messaging tool, right? Not so fast. There are two major reasons why exploring organized sports as a conduit to youth substance use prevention and harm reduction seems to be a no-brainer:

1.) More than 80% of youth ages 3-17 participate in some form of sport – an incredibly high participation rate and thus, an incredibly large audience.

2.) The sport team environment could be an excellent place to normalize positive attitudes and behaviour toward delayed substance use, especially during adolescence, when peer influence is high.

I agree with CCSA’s recommendation to rally together practitioners working in a youth- or sport-based field in Canada and researchers who study youth substance use prevention, youth development and sport to “play ball.” Incorporate prevention programs within sport organizations and study their impact.

In their North American environmental scan, CCSA did find some positive evaluation results of a small number of programs predominantly incorporated into school-based sport team environments, many of which were implemented in the United States. Some programs were aimed at reducing performance enhancing drugs and steroid use while others aimed to delay or reduce use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Most of the programs in the emerging peer reviewed literature were based on Theory of Planned Behaviour and Social Learning Theory. Although findings are preliminary, based on the evidence that does exist, CCSA says that anyone interested in developing or adopting a sport-based drug prevention program would be wise to include:

• A peer-to-peer component (a component upon which many of PADs educational programs is based) http://parentactionondrugs.org/program-resources/

• A team component (e.g., use part of a team practice)

• Incorporating respected coaches as program facilitators

• Involving parents as participant influencers to reinforce messages at home

• Including campaigns, posters and advertisements to correct youth perceptions and social norms (including famous athletes negatively affected and those who are positive role models)

• Offering tangible and achievable alternative behaviours to substance use to promote healthy development and performance

• Program goals that are attainable by the target audience (e.g., don’t ask them to do something they are unwilling or able to do)

• Multipronged approaches to include education, health screening, feedback and counselling if necessary to change behaviour that is already occurring

• Age appropriate, relevant materials

Incorporating substance prevention programming by community-based recreational and competitive youth sport organizations, in addition to school-based team programs would be advantageous seeing as many youth register for sports outside the school environment as well.

If you work with youth in sport or are involved in youth substance abuse prevention research, get into the game of harnessing all that sport has to offer as a place to promote a multitude of healthy behaviours and reduce risky ones...it could be a big win!

Sincerely,

Jane McCarthy, MSc, MPH
Manager, Program Development
Parent Action on Drugs
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To access more information and downloads from our Programs and Resources page go to: http://parentactionondrugs.org/program-resources/

To learn more about the full CCSA environmental scan a report go to http://www.ccsa.ca

To join the Canadian Sport Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Network send your request by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Image courtesy of fundraiserhelp.com

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