Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BCHC Newsletter - January 2012


Healthy Families BC Communities Initiative Consultation

Local Government Elected Officials and Chief Administrative Officers are invited to participate in a Healthy Families BC Communities consultation session in their region with the intent to foster partnerships between local governments and health authorities.

The Healthy Families BC Communities Initiative focuses on increasing support at the local government and health authority level to create environments that support people the make healthy choices the easy choice. Since there is no "one size fits all" approach to creating a healthy community the Ministry of Health is consulting with local governments and health authorities on the development of the Healthy Families BC Communities Initiative to ensure that it meets local community needs.

Based on the feedback received from the Union of BC Municipalities and Area Associations, a series of regional consultations are organized with local governments to gather input and feedback on the development and implementation of the Healthy Families BC Communities Initiative. To find out more about the consultations, dates and locations please click here

Healthy by Nature Report

In September 2011, 200 delegates (including 27 youth) gathered in Vancouver for the Healthy by Nature forum. This interdisciplinary forum focused on the physical & mental health benefits of time spent in nature through initiating dialogues, awareness building, partnership development, and action planning. The Healthy by Nature gathering was a collaborative effort led by numerous partners including BC Healthy Communities.

You can now read the full report detailing the whole forum. The report includes presentation highlights of keynote speakers Gil Penalosa and WIlliam Bird  and interesting outcomes of the panel discussions and sector workshops. It’s a great read for health practitioners, community & urban planners, and anyone who is interested in the critical links between human health, well being and nature.

A Community Tables Update

Our youngest Community Tables member
sharing her vision

The Community Tables: Engaging Neighbours Project launched in October with the first set of neighbourhood meetings taking place in Victoria’s Oaklands, North Park and Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhoods.

The Community Tables are a regional initiative of the United Way of Greater Victoria (UWGV), BC Healthy Communities (BCHC) and the Office of Community-Based Research-University of Victoria (OCBR) that focuses on building healthy, resilient neighbourhoods and mobilizing community assets to address some of Greater Victoria's most pressing issues.

During the table sessions an integral lens is used to help the groups create a vision for their neighbourhood, identify community assets and study challenges while paying attention to the tangible and intangible aspects of their community. One of the graduate interns from the University of Victoria, who support each of the table sessions, shared the following reflections after one of the sessions:
"Residents at the Tillicum Table were really excited about the possibility of improving their communities- and many there shared strikingly similar visions for what changes could help make the neighborhood more cohesive and vibrant" 
Lisa Willott Graduate Student Intern for Gorge-Tillicum, MA Candidate, Geography

In addition to the monthly meetings a community survey is conducted to gain more knowledge about the neighbourhood’s key assets, challenges and visions for change. The survey process aims to gain insight from a broad range of residents and the inventory will be incorporated into the table’s community development process. The last of the surveys are coming in now and will be discussed at the next community table meetings in February while the groups are gearing up to create their final Plan for Action. For more information about the Community Tables please send your request to stacy@bchealthycommunities.ca


Lisa Helps – The New City of Victoria Youth Council Liaison

Lisa Helps spends much of her time working in the community on place-based solutions to global and national challenges, and to increasing citizen engagement. She is a founder and currently the Executive Director of the Victoria Community Micro Lending Society which helps to build a vibrant local economy, foster sustainable business, reduce local poverty, and empower people. She also facilitates strategic planning and visioning sessions for organizations and small groups.

Lisa was on the the Board of Directors of Victoria’s Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group (Fernwood NRG) when the Society purchased and restored the Cornerstone building, built affordable housing units, and opened the Cornerstone CafĂ© as an enterprising non-profit venture. She is thrilled to be working for Community Micro Lending and is excited about the prospect of "changing everything".
In November Lisa was elected to the Victoria City Council and invited to become the new City of Victoria Youth Council (CVYC) Liaison. The CVYC was very pleased with this news and is looking forward to work together with Lisa on building a city where citizens lead.


Creating Change one Step at a Time
by: Deirdre Goudriaan

Over the past year, BCHC has been working on an innovation project through Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in Prince George and the Upper Skeena’s to engage young people to address healthy weights. As I was thinking about sharing some of our learning a personal story emerged for me as well that illuminate how hard it is to change.
There is nothing like a catastrophic health challenge that requires you to change your complete diet. I decided I would share this story with you because it highlights my own exploration of having to transform my diet. Secondly it allowed me to think through first-hand what we are asking young people in our communities to do and change.

Recently my physician advised me to adopt a potassium free diet (I have nicknamed it the “white diet” but more on that later) to deal with a blood disorder. Previously I was an ovo- vegetarian which refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs (for both health and ethical reasons). The first change required me to stop eating any vegetable based proteins and a variety of fruits and veggies I really enjoy and start eating meat. I knew it was necessary and yet I really resisted because:
  • I assumed healthy eating did not include meat or white flour (white bread, etc.) You see why it’s called the white diet (rice, apples, pears, white bread, white pita etc.)
  • I was ethically opposed to eating meat and many of my favorite vegetables and fruits required change as well (fortunately I maintained berries, I do live in the valley so that essential)
  • I had developed vegetarian habits (I knew how to shop/cook etc.)
  • I did not want to support white flour producers and what I considered unhealthy products (but here I am eating them)
  • My family was impacted and it has required more work
  • I felt inept at cooking, shopping and had no recipes
  • I did not feel the change could be healthy (even though it was ordered for health reasons)
Now this is just a small list but it gives you some idea of the complexity involved in asking someone to change their eating habits (whether those are good or not so good). This led me to think about the multitude of messages about food young people are surrounded by including what they should eat and who controls that for them.
In spite of all these influences, the youth involved with the PHAC project were able to look at some of the underlying and root causes of healthy eating and living and were able to illuminate blind spots, limitations but also possibilities. For me exploring possibilities is still unfolding as I unpack my mental models of healthy foods.
What is helping for the youth and myself to explore the root causes? Reflecting on our/my actions in a systematic and coordinated way. They learned and I am learning, I can have control by experimenting, trying new ideas and this learning and excitement also bubbles over into their communities (or in my case to my family), they talk about what they have learned and how they have changed. I guess that is what I am doing with this article.

This practice helped both me and the youth to take wiser, more discerning action in a way that honours what they know and how they know it and moves to create change. For example, a lot of youth are loyal to family eating rituals (I was), yet they can also influence and change those. We believe uncovering what's under the surface lead us away from “quick fixes” and propels us in new directions to address the complexity of healthy weights in youth but also to allow me to adopt this new way of being in the world.


Conference ~ 5th Building SustainAble Communities Conference
What: Conference including breakouts, panels, workshops, debates, and interactive sessions to provide opportunities for enhanced communication and collaboration on diverse sustainability topics
When: February 27th to March 1st, 2012
Where: Kelowna, for more information click here

Webinars ~ Beyond the Nest Egg: Feathering the Nest for Healthy Retirement
What: 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.
When: April 19, 2012 - 1:30 - 3:30pm
Where: Online, for more information or to register click here
Summit ~ Cities fit for Children
What: 3rd Annual Provincial Summit
When: Thursday, May 10 to Friday, May 11 2012
Where: Kamloops. For more information click here


In this era of increasingly complex problems and shrinking resources, can we find meaningful and enduring solutions to the challenges we face today as individuals, communities and nations?

Surfing the Waves of Change is an animation exploring the idea of community resilience using the metaphor of a surfer. It is produced by Cultivate's Community Resilience Centre in Ireland as a spin off of the resilience work of Fiery Spirits.

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