Friday, September 30, 2011

BCHC Newsletter - September 2011


Drop off your winter gear for homeless Youth in Victoria
The City of Victoria Youth Council (CVYC), a BC Healthy Communities program, is collecting donations of clean winter hats/toques, gloves and scarves for homeless youth in Victoria. We are hoping to collect 30 complete sets of these items by October 5th. The donation drive is part of Project Connect, organized by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.

Donations can be dropped off to the following locations:
BC Healthy Communities: 525 Government Street - Monday- Friday between 8:30- 4:30 p.m.
Crystal Pool: 2275 Quadra Street – during regular pool hours
Victoria City Hall (lobby): 1 Centennial Square – Monday – Friday between 8:00- 4:30 p.m.
L’ecole Brodeur: 637 Rue Head- Monday – Friday during school hours
For more info click here

My City. My Community. My Life: Youth Leadership and Action Summit 
On November 4th and 5th The City of Victoria Youth Council is organizing a Youth Leadership Action Summit at the Victoria City Hall with support from the City of Victoria. The Summit is an exciting opportunity for youth where they can hear presentations on key issues affecting youth in our community and gain new skills in working together as a team, planning social change projects, making decisions as a group and to participate in hands-on workshops where youth will learn about using music, video, graphic, and other media to communicate their message. For more info click here


Literacy in the Environment
By Frances Warner and Vi Hughes

Can playgrounds and public spaces be designed to enhance early literacy as well as promote healthy bodies? We think so. All areas of child development are enhanced through play, including language development. Printing words, signs, labels, messages, stories, and rhymes on playground equipment, in community gardens, and in the parks and recreational spaces, will ignite a preschooler’s natural curiosity. These reading discoveries could be as simple as finding the word ‘swing’ on the seat of a swing, or ‘up’ on the slide’s steps, or ‘round, round, round’ on the wheels of the playground bus. It could mean finding numbers or shapes on paving stones. Children will wonder and ask about the print, about what the words say and mean. The collaborative conversations that follow are crucial to a child’s literacy development. 

Photo: Douglas Colpitts
Over time children will develop the foundations of literacy. They will see that words have meaning, that words identify a picture, tell a story or give a message. They will notice that English print moves from left to right and top to bottom. With repeated experiences children will begin to read for themselves, predict the meaning of new words, and match words to the pictures on display. With rhymes and predictable text, children will learn the rhythm of our language and the pattern of sentences.

This ‘Literacy in the Environment’ or LITE will provide benefits for all children, but it will particularly assist those children with limited educational opportunities. It will help foster a child friendly environment and could also be used to promote socially responsible activities; such as taking transit, biking, walking, keeping safe, protecting wildlife, recycling and celebrating diversity.

Why do we believe in providing reading opportunities to children long before they start school? According to the Human Early Learning Partnership Study that tracked 140,000 children over a decade, over 25% of children starting Kindergarten in BC were considered vulnerable, lacking in literacy skills. Municipalities understand the importance of supporting emerging literacy and typically provide community spaces and grants to non-profit societies who organize wonderful literacy programs and events. Many of these are time specific, dependent upon adults, require registration, and substantial resources. LITE aims for universal accessibility for preschoolers.

We call upon park planners, social planners, early childhood educators, librarians, and primary school teachers to collaborate on how LITE could be implemented in their neighbourhood public spaces and recreational facilities. Implementation plans could align with playground upgrading schedules and funding could be provided through parks budgets and community amenities contributions. LITE’s a bright idea! Developing healthy bodies and healthy minds at the same time.

Reference: The Human Early Learning Partnership, Dr. Clyde Hertzman, 2009


Building Community Through Cupcakes!
By Stacy Barter

On September 25th, BC Healthy Communities (BCHC) hosted a “Cupcake Social” for over 200 residents of Acadia Park, the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) student family housing neighbourhood. Based on the Integral Capacity Building Framework and designed to be family-friendly and community building for all ages, the event brought people together around something we all love – FOOD! The event featured a range of activities to celebrate the diverse multi-cultural community that lives at Acadia Park. Activities included cupcake decorating, family arts and crafts activities including a banner of “community flags”, community and asset mapping, and children’s arts activities.

BCHC and the UBC’s Campus and Community Planning Office formed a partnership earlier this summer to design and conduct a community needs assessment and asset mapping process with residents and staff of Acadia Park. The Cupcake Social was organized to gather feedback from residents about their community, community assets, and programming they would like to see in the future. The input of the Acadia community members will be used to create recommendations for future community development. For more information about the UBC – Acadia project or the Integral Capacity Building Framework please contact


Becs Hoskins - BC Parks / Child and Nature Alliance of Canada
By: Lucas Harris

Becs Hoskins is a passionate advocate for building healthy communities through increasing people's connection with the outdoors. Her work focuses on ensuring that all Canadians have unstructured experiences in nature - whether it's in their backyard or in a remote wilderness setting. For the past five years, Becs has facilitated collaborative processes and initiatives that bring cross-sector groups together with the common goal of improving human health and well-being through a connection with nature. Most recently, Becs was the lead organizer for the Healthy by Nature forum in Vancouver. Becs' passion, experience and clear vision, combined with the hard work of many collaborative partners resulted in a memorable and inspiring event that brought together professionals from health, communities & planning, education, and parks & recreation.

Becs has worked in numerous roles building strategic partnerships in a variety of sectors including youth engagement, climate action and parks. Becs spent many years as an outdoor educator and is a geographer by training (with a BSc and MSc from the University of Victoria). She combines her experience in collaboration, social innovation, group facilitation, non-profit management and youth engagement with her passion for people and nature in her current roles as a project manager with BC Parks and as Director of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada .

Becs also volunteers as a member of the Program Committee for Power to Be Adventure Therapy Society, where she has been a volunteer for 8 years.


What is Healthy Public Policy?
By: Jodi Mucha
Health is both a fundamental human right and a valuable social investment. Many of the inequities in health that communities are grappling with stem are from inequities in our social systems. Inequities in our social systems oftentimes are a function of the lack of health supporting policies. Health supporting policies are ‘healthy public policies’ (a term coined by public health physician, Dr. Trevor Hancock, and are developed by not just the health sector but a wide range of sectors.

Beyond the Health Sector
The Adelaide Declaration defines healthy public policy as: “(it) is characterized by an explicit concern for health and equity in all areas of policy and by an accountability for health impact. The main aim of health-focused policy is to create a supportive environment to enable people to lead healthy lives” (WHO,1988). Such policies make health choices possible or easier for citizens. The above definition implies that policy decisions are not limited to those relating to health care or even other public services. Instead, policy decisions would include a commitment to review all policy actions taken by governments and their public offices and organizations in light of their effects on health (Centre for Active Living, 2002 ).

Basic Principles
One of the fundamental precepts on which the healthy cities/communities approach is based is that the major determinants of health are to be found in environmental, social, economic, political, and cultural conditions—and the behaviors they shape—rather than in the provision of health care. Accordingly, most of the people and organizations who will have the biggest impact on health in the community are to be found beyond the health care sector (Hancock 1997). Five basic principles of healthy public policy identified by the World Health Organization that expand the connections beyond traditional health and public service responsibilities and link to a range of determinants of health include:

• Economic development must seek to increase quality of life and not just gross national product;
• The most sensitive indicator of a society's quality of life is the health of its poor and other vulnerable groups (such as children, elders, women who head households, the handicapped, unemployed, migrants, and minorities);
• The achievement of equal access to resources for health should be high among the goals of economic development;
• Health service cannot alone equalize opportunities for health; and
• Health equity—health for all—requires the collaboration of all policy sectors (especially those concerned with economics, agriculture and food, education and information, and environment and habitat) (WHO, 1988).

What can be Done
Local government can play a lead role in influencing and developing healthy public policies thus creating environments where citizens not only survive, but thrive. The first step is to develop a multi-sectoral Healthy Communities (HC) Committee with a commitment to influence individual and community health and well-being. The HC Committee then provides leadership, through representation, strategic alliances, investment, education and monitoring/evaluation. From a delivery perspective, the committee ensures delivery of local government services and activities that include facilitation, funding, regulation, provision and collaboration (with other levels of government and the community). Through such activities individuals, families, community groups and a wide range of organizations can build on existing capacities and develop stronger abilities to influence change.

-  Hancock, Trevor. 1997. Healthy Cities and Communities: Past, Present, and Future
- Centre for Active Living. Healthy Public Policy or Hollow Political Prose: How Much Progress Have We Really Made? 2002
-  World Health Organization: Adelaide Recommendations on Healthy Public Policy Second International Conference on Health Promotion, Adelaide, South Australia, 5-9 April 1988


Webinars ~ Northern BC Citizens Series on Health Webinars
BCHC and Northern Health's Population Health Team have partnered to host a series of free web-based seminars on the role of citizens in building healthy communities. The webinars invite dialogue from northern communities on specific topics that are critical to improving the health outcomes of northern people.

Oct. 13, 2011 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
"Reading Between the Lines: How Libraries and Literacy Contribute to Health"
Jan. 19, 2012 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
"Beginning With the End in Mind: Creating Safe and Nurturing Environments for Our Very Young"
April 19, 2012 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
"Beyond the Nest Egg: Feathering the Nest for Healthy Retirement"
For more information or to REGISTER click here

Bright Ideas IV ~ Pre-Conference Learning Event - Youth Engagement 101
What: Youth Engagement Learning Event
When: October 18, 2011, 9:30am - 12:00 noon
Where: Victoria, Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre
For more information or to register click here ( Deadline: October 11th, 2011)

Bright Ideas IV ~ Conference and Day of Action!
What: Youth Engagement Learning Event
When: October 25, 2011, 9:30am - 3:30
Where: TBA
For more information or to register click here ( Deadline: October 11th, 2011)

Youth Summit ~ My City, My Community, My Life
Youth Leadership and Action Summit
When: November 4th & 5th 2011
Where: Victoria City Hall
For more information click here

~ Cities fit for Children
What: 3rd Annual Provincial Summit
When: Thursday, May 10 to Friday, May 11 2012
Where: Kamloops, BC
For more information click here


Last Child in the Woods
Author: Richard Louv

In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard. Read more

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