Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BCHC Newsletter - June 2011


Welcome to our summer student Ronnie!
We are pleased to announce that Ronnie Tadesse will be working with BC Healthy Communities as a summer student until August 12th, 2011. Ronnie is a former City of Victoria Youth Council member and SPARK grant recipient. She is currently enrolled as a student at the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Ronnie is a natural leader and will be a great addition to the team. She will primarily be working at community events to do outreach to other youth about our programs and opportunities. We're very
happy to have Ronnie joining us!


The Healthy Communities Approach and Chronic Disease Prevention
by Jodi Mucha

In Canada today, more than nine million people suffer from some form of chronic disease.
It is estimated that this number could significantly increase as populations age if action is not taken. Growing concern about chronic disease prevention in our society had led us to recognize that a more comprehensive and integrated approach is needed to address the causes of the diseases and we need strategies that extend outside of the health system. The Healthy Communities Approach is an effective, and integrated global model that takes an upstream approach to chronic disease prevention.

The Healthy Communities Approach

The international healthy communities movement originates from the World Health Organization’s
“Healthy Cities” project, launched in 1986. Worldwide, the Healthy Communities (HC) Approach addresses the complex interplay of how the various aspects of health not only shape where we live, but how we live. This worldwide movement is based on the core value of capacity building and empowerment of individuals, organizations and communities and is based on:
  • Multiple and interconnected determinants of health
    (Social, environmental, physical, cultural, economic, psychological, etc)

  • Five key building blocks:
    1. Community/citizen engagement
    2. Multi-sectoral collaboration
    3. Political commitment
    4. Healthy public policy
    5. Asset-based community development
There is recognition of the vital role of all levels of government (local, provincial, national) in creating conditions for health and human development. Also of importance is development of public policy in non-health sectors, policy that explicitly intends to improve community and population health (for example, ‘healthy’ policies developed by transportation and housing). Tapping into the positive assets of a community and building on the existing strengths and capacities of a community’s people, organizations, institutions and its physical assets is also key to overall community success.

Integrated Action for Chronic Disease Prevention
Research indicates there is an overall consensus on the seven chronic diseases which have the greatest effect on our populations mortality rate. These diseases include: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes respiratory diseases, arthritis, hypertension and mood disorders. Recent statistics and evidence also indicate that these diseases tend to co-occur and in fact, more than one-third of persons affected suffer from two or more forms of these diseases.

Chronic disease prevention is a complex community challenge—one that requires thinking and action that supports the complete state of health (physical, mental, social), which goes beyond the mere absence of disease. Healthy communities activities are inclusive community processes that encompass: 

a) an area-based development strategy that supports communities to have a greater role in their health and well-being,
b) preventative action on health determinants that encompass common risk factors to chronic diseases, and
c) inspiring change for overall improvement of population health that includes collaboration amongst a wide range of sectors.
Taking integrated action on the determinants of health entails consideration of a range of community issues including income and social status, social support, literacy, employment, physical and social environments, personal health practices and coping skills, health services, gender, culture and healthy human development. Bringing multi-sectoral communities together to collaborate around a common vision for a shared future is one effective way for communities to grow and thrive in a health promoting way- an approach that is an upstream, proactive approach to chronic disease prevention.

Prince George, BC
by Jodi Mucha

Last year, the City of Prince George completed my PG, an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP). This plan captured the results of extensive public and stakeholder engagement aimed to create a vision of the long-term future of Prince George and outline what is needed to achieve this vision. Six of the top ten goals were social goals. Overall, residents of Prince George indicated they wanted a community that supports and encourages health and wellness for all. Youth was identified as one of the important aspects of this vision. health and wellness for all. Youth was identified as one of the important aspects of this vision.
In early February 2011, the City of Prince George partnered with BC Healthy Communities, the Northern Health Authority, the Canadian Cancer Society, Sustainable Childhood Obesity Prevention through Community Engagement (SCOPE), and a range of community groups such as the Storytellers Foundation as well as local schools to take specific youth engagement action around achieving healthier weight in children and youth. This project, funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, will allow youth in Prince George to build skills in participatory action research, and develop a range of leadership skills around working together towards achieving healthier weights for children and youth in rural communities.

Multicultural Youth Take on Homophobia in 'My Forbidden Disorder'
by Sarah Amyot

When Koyume Fukushima, age 17, was at her home in Japan, one of her friends revealed his sexual identity as being gay. The students in her school, including her, ostracized and ignored him until he changed schools. When Koyume came to Victoria as an international student, she realized the injustice of her actions. “I saw this [same-sex] couple walking down the street and thought, ‘Wow, they look so beautiful.’” She was determined to make amends and raise awareness about homophobia here in Victoria as well as at home in Japan. Although English is her second language and she had no prior experience with theatre, Koyume wrote ‘My Forbidden Disorder,’ a play that is both sophisticated and heart-breaking.

Koyume teamed up with five other multicultural youth to produce ‘My Forbidden Disorder.’ The diverse cast of youth comes from Japan, the Philippines, Mexico and Canada. Though they all grew up with divergent cultural perspectives on same-sex relationships, all the youth agree that homophobia is a problem that needs to be dealt with. They invited youth from the South Island Pride Community Centre Society to be involved in the production and a truly youth-led project was born. With the support of a small youth- action grant (called SPARK grants) from BC Healthy Communities’ YouthCore program, and in-kind support from several other community partners, the youth were recently able host a ‘standing room only’ two- night engagement for over 150 parents, friends, and community members. The play is a powerful tool that illustrates the disastrous effects of homophobia in a way that speaks to the youth and adults in our community and a poignant example of the power of ‘learning to lead through action’.

If you live in the greater Victoria area and have an idea for a youth-led change project you may be eligible for support through the BC Healthy Communities’ SPARK: Learning to Lead Through Action program. For more information contact Sarah Amyot, Youth Engagement Projects Coordinator at youth@bchealthycommunities.ca to discuss your idea. To learn more about the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society visit their website.

Juicy Collaborations?

by Deirdre Goudriaan

At BC Healthy Communities, we have the good fortune of supporting others with collaboration and we also collaborate and partner ourselves. Just notice the top leadership books, the headlines, the proposals and the business literature and you will notice collaboration appears virtuous and yet sometimes it appears easier to discuss collaboration than accomplish it.
The focus on benefits of collaboration could lead one to think that collaboration is a favoured approach in the world in our desire to improve health outcomes; lead organizations more effectively, improve community development practice, educate future professionals, and conduct health care research. Unfortunately, interdisciplinary collaboration as a practice norm is relatively rare out there and so I sense some great fortune for us to be on the frontiers of great collaboration.
Lately, I have been pondering why some collaboration just flourish (become juicy!) and others seem to fizzle…more on that in a moment. Before we look at those themes though it is equally imperative to look inside and explore our internal dialogue about collaboration. What is your inside story? Does it conjure up images of loss of control and fear? How about hostility and conflict and never really getting your needs met? Or does it create an image of a better community and world? Does it value multiple perspectives and believe that “we are better together”? Try to consider the story you are bringing to the table the next time someone asks you to collaborate – can you bring your best self forward? Can you acknowledge your fears and the loss of control? We can all be better collaborators just by taking this step.

So….after reflecting on my experiences and picking the brains of others who view collaboration just as importantly as we do, some themes are emerging. These are not the only factors or even the most important factors and they are intended to stimulate thinking and dialogue. We are not “done”, these factors will change, shift and grow over time just as we hope to do!

1. Spend time learning about your values and underlying assumptions about the project.
Many people have an “inside story” about the project and these values and assumptions will impact the project so in my opinion it is ideal if you can explore and investigate them sooner than later.
2. We need to suggest to funders (or better yet involve them)when they expect collaborative proposals that to be more effective collaborators, we need the time to do really meaningful development work in the front end of proposal development. This sets the groundwork for when the project is awarded and is such an important element to ensure you begin the collaboration on the right foot.
3. Learning and better yet reflection about our learning needs to be incorporated if we hope to gain collective ground during the collaborative process. Reflective processes help you to move forward with personal and collective development.
4. Make sure each partner has something substantive and necessary for the project so they remain engaged and see the importance of their continued commitment. Great collaborative groups learn from one another and are involved and engaged.
5. Spend time thinking about how to make good and effective decisions in collaborations. Some practices for better decision making include Holacracy, Wikis and Thought Stream, let’s consider other options that take us beyond consensus building. We need to get better at making integrated decisions and these tools are helping.
6. Conflict when managed well is a sign of growth, trust and reciprocity. Conflicts are bound to arise and in fact this can lead to unveiling new perspectives and possibilities that had not been considered previously.
7. We need to expect and empower people to effectively respond to change – if there is one thing we have learned it is that change has become a key driver in collaboration and our collective performance.
We are all voyageurs in the new frontier of collaborative practices, decision making and improving outcomes for people in our communities and the world. Let’s explore together and please share your ideas (the inside ones or the outside ones) since we are whole people in the whole community! Please contribute your thoughts, lessons, ideas, or conflicts about collaboration? I would love to hear them! Email me at: Deirdre@bchealthycommunities.ca 


Forum - Healthy by Nature ~ Vancouver
A forum on the physical & mental health benefits of time spent in nature.
September 20 - 23, 2011
Creekside Community Recreation Centre (map)
For more information click here

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. Grassroots community members, local government representatives, service providers, and others are invited to engage and participate in shared learning about a range of specific issues related to health determinants. For more information click here

Save the dates!
Oct 15, 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


The Story of Stuff - The Book
Author: Annie Leonard

We have a problem with Stuff. With just 5 percent of the world's population, we're consuming 30 percent of the world's resources and creating 30 percent of the world's waste. If everyone consumed at U.S. rates, we would need three to five planets! 

This alarming fact drove Annie Leonard to create the Internet film sensation The Story of Stuff, which has been viewed over 10 million times by people around the world. In her sweeping, groundbreaking book of the same name, Leonard tracks the life of the Stuff we use every day—where our cotton T-shirts, laptop computers, and aluminum cans come from, how they are produced, distributed, and consumed, and where they go when we throw them out. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, The Story of Stuff is a landmark book that will change the way people think—and the way they live. To read more click here