Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BCHC Newsletter | February 2014


Healthy Communities Capacity Building Grants Update

The deadline for applications for the Healthy Communities Capacity Building Grants for Local Governments is March 14, 2014.

Read more about the grants on PlanH.

New Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP) Grants Available
Interested in the BC Liquor Policy Review? Want to know what it might mean for your community? Do you want to develop polices and procedures that ensure your local government has clear guidelines regarding alcohol?  

We are pleased to announce the third round of funding for the Municipal Alcohol Policy program for local governments in our province. BCHC is accepting expressions of interest from all local governments, including First Nations communities, for seed grants of up to $7,000 to develop a MAP in their communities.

Next Steps

  • Find out if MAP is right for your community by contacting us. 
  • Apply for up to $7,000 to help fund the development of the MAP by completing the MAP application form and submitting it by March 21, 2014.
Email the Healthy Communities Program Coordinator Krissi Spinoza at hccoordinator@bchealthycommunities.ca or call 250-952-9177.

Creston and Area Youth Forum Alive with Ideas
Drawing by Mormon Hills School Student.
We met with youth from Creston (Prince Charles Secondary School) and Bountiful (Mormon Hills School) last month for a series of facilitated exercises, on behalf of the Town of Creston, and with funding from Columbia Basin Trust.

We heard from youth about:
  • Community assets (e.g. best places in their community, fun activities, youth spaces);
  • Their skills, talents and strengths;
  • Their vision for a more youth-friendly community.
The results from this forum will be collated and themed, and combined with interview and survey results from youth service providers.

We’d like to thank all the youth who participated in this forum. It’s an honour to work with this group! 

To get involved or for more information, contact BCHC.


Community Conversation Series Showcases Power of Local Collaboration 
With thanks to Art Martens

Community leaders and advocates from Princeton to Osoyoos to Kamloops filled the Okanagan Regional Library Seniors Centre in Hedley, B.C. for the first in a series of “Community Conversations” on February 10.

The conversation series is organized by Angelique Wood, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) Director of Area G, and Kim English, a director of the Hedley Heritage Museum Association.

The series will focus on sustainable and resilient examples of successful community development initiatives, with guest speakers, panel discussions, and local participation to invoke a positive community shift.

By listening to real-life example of success stories from throughout BC, and getting a chance to related the stories back to our current reality, our community leaders will have the opportunity to meet and discover strength in shared goals, said the organizers.

“This type of meeting will enable us to form lasting bonds and grow our communities,” said Wood.

The inaugural Community Conversations event featured a presentation by Julie Fowler, Executive Director of the ArtsWells Festival, now in its eleventh year.

In her presentation, “How a Town of 250 Became a Cultural Capital with ArtWells”, Fowler shared the development of the festival and lessons learned with a lively and interested audience of 40 to 60 people.

Fowler told the group her passion is to support artists of all kinds. “I want to bring them together,” she said, “and I want to bring their art to the world.”
The festival started small.

“In the beginning we gave away a lot of tickets so people would come.” Said Fowler. “If an artist showed an interest, we begged them to come. There was little money to pay them, but we did feed them.”

Last year’s sold-out festival attracted approximately 2,000 guests, and included the efforts over 200 volunteers, with over 100 musical performances on 12 stages, and more than 20 workshops on topics ranging from Ukrainian dance to lyric writing.

This month’s Community Conversations event also included a panel discussion with representatives from the Princeton Traditional Music Festival and the Upper Similkameen Spirit Festival, who brought forward their own organizational successes and challenges.

The next Community Conversation in April will focus on food systems. For more information about this event series, please contact Kim English.


Nature Deficit Disorder: Reconnecting Youth With The Natural Environment 
By Michelle Sandsmark, MA Public Health (UVic) Practicum Student

We live in an era of urban sprawl and urbanization, with a dramatic increase in screen time among youth, an increase in sedentary behaviours, and a decline in physical activity.

Today, only 12 per cent of Canadian children meet daily physical activity recommendations (Government of Canada, 2014). This combination of unhealthy lifestyles and environments are related to negative health outcomes among children including chronic disease, mental illness, and obesity.

Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods, coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” in 2005 to describe our disintegrating relationship with the natural environment. Seventy per cent of 13-20 year olds from most provinces and territories in Canada spend less than one hour per day outdoors (AHKC, 2013). The impacts of alienation from nature are clearly detrimental to personal well-being and to the health of the environment.
The Impacts
Children who spend less time outdoors, and who have a reduced exposure to the natural environment are more likely to experience negative physical, mental, and social health issues, including:
  • Attention problems 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Stress 
  • Depression 
  • Impaired cognitive functioning 
  • Aggression or violence 
  • Obesity

Children who spent more time connecting with nature experience some astounding positive outcomes:
  • Reduced symptoms of ADHD
  • Improved mental health
  • Positive social skill development
  • Improved resilience
  • Healthier BMI
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Less risk for chronic disease or illness
  • Stronger motor skill development
  • A higher likelihood to care for and respect natural resources
(Keniger et al., 2013; Largo-Wight, 2011; Ming Kuo, 2010)

The Recovery

"Playing in the Wetlands" by USFW Pacific (liscenced under CC BY 2.0)
"Playing in the Wetlands" by USFWS Pacific
The disconnection between children and nature is evident, and the data and negative health outcomes are worrisome. Yet the methods for prevention and promotion are promising. Actions can span from simply improving a private or public space to include greenery, to implementing school-based programs that allow youth time to connect with the outdoors. Here are some strategies that result in improved health outcomes:

Greening a Private or Public Space
People often cite time or weather as barriers to getting outdoors. Simple actions, such as adding potted plants to an indoor space, hanging pictures of the natural environment, playing relaxing nature sounds, or having windows that have a view of the natural environment, can be beneficial to reduce the physiological effects of stress, and may also reduce the occurrence of illness (Keniger, et al., 2013; Largo-Wight, 2011).

Greening the Community and Schoolyards
Preserving green space in communities is important so all residents are able access and connect to the natural environment. Local governments can take action to ensure green space is preserved, and parks are well maintained and aesthetically pleasing so residents will want to spend time outdoors. Other actions may include establishing well connected trails and walking paths, or implementing community or school gardens for residents and students to learn, connect, and grow.

Greening Education
Forest schools are an exciting alternative to early childhood education that allow children to spend a large portion of school time outdoors while still meeting the provincial curriculum requirements. In 2012, the first nature kindergarten was established in Sooke, B.C. The program has experienced success as educators witnessed numerous positive outcomes, such as increased physical activity levels, strong social skills development, and a determination to learn more about the natural environment.

Award-winning Power To Be Adventure Therapy programs, Adaptive Recreation and Wilderness School, offer families and youth an opportunity to engage in activities that utilize nature based activities and outdoor education to foster positive youth development while also developing various life skills.

Another great initiative that BC Healthy Communities is part of is Get Outside BC, an exciting leadership program and learning opportunity for youth in BC who have a passion for getting more youth out in nature. To find out more about this program click here

Active Healthy Kids Canada. (2013). Are we driving our kids to unhealthy habits? Retrieved from http://dvqdas9jty7g6.cloudfront.net/reportcard2013/AHKC-Summary-2013.pdf 

Government of Canada. (2014). Children and physical activity. Retrieved from http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/kids-enfants/physical-physique/tips-conseils-eng.php

Keniger, L.E., Gaston, K.J., Irvine, K.N., & Fuller, R.A. (2013). What are the benefits of interacting with nature? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, 10, 913-935. doi:10.3390/ijerph10030913

Largo-Wight, E. (2011). Cultivating healthy places and communities: Evidenced-based nature contact recommendations. Intl J Envtl Health Res, 21(1), 41–61. doi 10.1080/09603123.2010.499452

Ming Kuo, F.E. (2010). Parks and other green environments: Essential components of a healthy human habitat. Retrieved from http://arris.ca/~arris2/ARCHIVE/ Parks%20and%20Other%20Greens.pdf


Northern BC Citizen Series Webinars

We're partnering with Northern Health to host our fourth year of ‘Citizens Series’ webinars. These two-hour sessions invite dialogue from northern communities on specific topics that are critical to improving the health outcomes of northern people, recognizing that community and civic involvement is a cornerstone to healthy people and populations.

Each session panel will include strong northern-based voices, as well provincial or national leaders in the topic area. All you need is access to a phone and computer with an internet connection. This is a opportunity to gather colleagues and interested advocates, and access this learning webinar at a very low cost – free! Please contact us for more information or to register. To find out more about these webinar series please click here

Upcoming Webinar: Too Much of a Good Thing? Social Impacts of Rapid Industrial Growth in Rural Communities
When: April 24, 2014  1:30-3:30 pm (PST)
Register now

Upcoming Webinar: Social Retrofit: Equipping Our Communities to Support Aging in Place
When: June 12, 2014  1:30-3:30 pm (PST)
Register now


ThinkerToys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques
By Michael Michalko

Thinker Toys is a good read for people interested in innovation and developing their own creativity and is great for getting new facilitation tips and ideas. It also reminds us that we are all capable of developing, changing, and being fully alive rather than passive beings on this planet.

Recommended by Deirdre Goudriaan, BCHC Associate Facilitator.

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