Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BCHC Newsletter | April 2014

PHSA and PlanH proudly present
Launch of the Linkages Toolkit

We are pleased to announce the release of a new resource called Healthy Built Environment Linkages: A Toolkit for Design, Planning & Health.

Developed by the PHSA Population and Public Health team in partnership with the Healthy Built Environment (HBE) Alliance, this toolkit is an important resource for anyone involved in healthy built environment work, including community planners and designers, land-use and transportation professionals, public health professionals, and staff or decision-makers in municipal and regional governments.

To learn more about the HBE Linkages Toolkit, please visit the PlanH Website here.

Civic Governance Forum
Food for Thought: A Feast of Inspiration
By Angela Bello

The more one understands what is really on the table, the more willing one is to dig in! Food for Thought: Progressive Governance Forum 2014 was a feast of inspiration!

Angela and Stacy, BCHC
The theme of this year’s Columbia Institute conference was food security and discussions were framed by the social determinants of health, such as, income, education and literacy, social support, employment and working conditions, culture, and healthy child development (with Raffi – beloved child advocate and musician), as well as other BCHC focus areas, like political commitment and leadership. Approximately 185 attendees came together from April 4th to 5th in Vancouver, BC to learn from keynote speakers and workshops.
The presenters explained the interconnectivity and processes involved in food systems, land use, and how people access healthy food, without oversimplifying or mystifying the issues. They provided solutions and skills. With this approach, the subject matter no longer felt like a black hole – a deep dark vortex of problems, it became a game; one that you now have fun playing because you know the rules and have tons of great teammates with the courage to play through any kind of weather. When you gain the knowledge about how decisions happen and what actions can work, or develop the skills to mediate a discussion about complex issues, it empowers you to establish a more optimistic viewpoint: we can change and we can learn how to move forward with more people on the positive side of the equation.

What was so great about this conference? Well, it transcended the regularly forged divisions of who cares about what and how people go about impacting the world; this conference knocked down the harmful reduction of Us versus Them. Solid research illustrates that there are many common values across political affiliation, a salient notion to building the collective capacity in creating a supportive and sustainable society. Please click here to find out more or to download presentation resources.

Teen Action Committee of Creston
Ashley Allin-Gareau

When I was interviewed for the Teen Advocate position for the Teen Action Committee, I was asked why I wanted to work with youth. For me, that question has always been a clear and easy one to answer. Like many, I came from a less than perfect upbringing with challenges and hurdles that caused me to think and to think hard. With those experiences came a greater understanding of my peers and what teens face on a day-to-day basis. It is with that understanding that I found my purpose in life, to work with those who are at-risk and need a sense of purpose, something I wish someone would have offered to me at such a crucial stage in development.

Over the past year I have had the exclusive chance of getting to know and understand the youth in the Creston Valley and surrounding area. Personally, I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with such a spectacular committee of young adults. This talented, passionate group makes up the Teen Action Committee (TAC) of Creston; a non-profit teen-based group that was granted $100,000 over four years from CDYF to provide free, safe events and programming as an alternative to the risky activities that are so readily available to all youth in all areas.

Not only do we aim to provide free, safe events and programs to the youth in the Creston Valley, but we also hold community participation and involvement close to our hearts and we are actively pursuing ways to get involved. The Teen Action Committee has been asked to volunteer at many town based events ranging from the Blossom Festival to the first annual Winter Children's Festival. Through these events, our goal is to change the perception of youth in Creston to a positive one, one that will harbour growth between the age gap that is too prevalent to those in the area.

One major focus for myself, as well as the members of TAC, is to attain a sustainable Youth Centre, a place that is all their own where they can host events. It is so important, if not vital, for youth to feel like they belong in their community and are being heard, all while experiencing a new sense of purpose and direction. Youth need to be challenged but in fun, engaging ways that encourage growth. These things play a huge role in self-identification; without a strong sense of self, it is far easier to succumb to peer pressure and risky behaviours which is what we have seen a lot of in the past. It is our responsibility to arm these youth with the skill sets and tools they will need to become strong, independent, capable and contributing members of society. I am lucky enough to be in a role within the community that can implement these changes or at the very least, create a path for our future generations to see the change they so desire. Creston is on the verge of something great and huge and you can believe that the youth are definitely going to be a part of it.

To learn more about the Creston Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) project, please contact

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ~ Helen Keller
5 Simple Steps for Creating Successful Partnerships
By Amanda Ng

When you think of creating an effective partnership what comes to mind? What would you say are the key ingredients for developing great partnerships around common projects, initiatives and activities in the community or to impact decision-making? Below is a brief overview of some of the key ingredients to consider.

1. Trust and Communication
Trust is an essential ingredient, if not one of the most important factors contributing towards a successful partnership. Trust requires the investment of one’s time to build and cultivate a strong foundation (Haynes et al., 2012). The development of trust reduces the uncertainty and perceptions of risk in a relationship where one party is relying on another.

Maintaining the ability to communicate with various stakeholders is an asset to any partnership. For example, a researcher is a valued partner if they can communicate clearly in briefings with policymakers, but also talk to community members without sounding patronizing or using research jargon. The ability to listen and respectfully provide opinions is a significant aspect of communication.

2. Advisory Committees and Degree of Involvement
The creation of advisory committees, composed of relevant stakeholders from the partnership, is viewed as a constructive method to facilitate the partnership process (Campbell, Cornish, & McLean, 2004). Advisory committees increase the opportunity for communication on a frequent basis and build relationships (and trust) over time.

The degree of stakeholder involvement in a partnership directly correlates with partnership success (Campbell, Cornish, & McLean, 2004). All partners need to be involved in the planning and early implementation of the partnership itself. By doing so, it has the potential to reduce any negative impacts down the road as all partners can agree upon priorities, goals, and outcomes from the outset.

3. Flexibility
In the face of shifting priorities, a successful partnership requires all partners to compromise and accommodate. Haynes et al. (2012) looked at partnerships between government stakeholders and academic researchers. A key point in ensuring a successful partnership between both stakeholders from such different domains was the need to be flexible with research design in response to real world demands and pressing timelines (often encountered in a government setting).

4. Formalization of Roles and Training

While it may seem obvious, successful partnerships depend on having defined roles and responsibilities for all participating parties (Lal & Mercier, 2009). It is important to effectively assign roles to all partners by drawing on their strengths and expertise in order to use their time well.

Given that partnerships are often based upon multisectoral collaboration, partners often have different professional backgrounds, which in combination with the discussions about differing perceptions, values and the development of trust, suggests that some awareness development might be helpful. (Campbell, Cornish, & McLean, 2004) states, “resources can release voluntary sector agencies to, for example, enable training for people . . . going to meetings and putting their views across. You can empower people, you can build their confidence and their ability to put their message across.”

5. Power
Power, or more specifically power imbalances, has proven to be a monumental hurdle to successful partnerships. Differences in power are inevitable especially when one partner is responsible for funding and resources (Campbell, Cornish, & Mclean, 2004). For the partner that receives the funding, they may be hesitant to be completely honest in critiquing the work being done, in fear of losing funding altogether.

Please note, these are only a few factors that contribute to a successful partnership. The success of a partnership varies according to numerous factors (e.g. stakeholders, funding constraints, time, flexibility), and as such, there is no distinct recipe to a successful partnership. However, the factors listed above provide a starting point for those interested in initiating a partnership or who wish to improve existing ones.

Campbell, C., Cornish, F., & McLean, C. (2004). Social capital, participation and the perpetuation of health inequalities: Obstacles to African-Caribbean participation in 'partnerships' to improve mental health. Ethnicity & Health, 9(4): 313-335.

Garland, A. F., Plemmons, D., & Koontz, L. (2006). Research-Practice partnership in mental health: Lessons from participants. Administration Policy in Mental Health & Mental Health Services Research, 2006(33): 517-528.

Haynes, A. S., Derrick, G. E., Redman, S., Hall, W. D., Gillespie, J. A., Chapman, S., & Sturk, H. (2012). Identifying trustworthy experts: How do policymakers find and assess public health researchers worth consulting or collaborating with? Public Library of Science ONE, 7(3).

Lal, S., & Mercier, C. (2009). Intersectoral action to employ individuals with mental illness: Lessons learned from a local development initiative. Work, 33(2009): 427-437.

Rose, D. (2003). Partnership, co-ordination of care and the place of user involvement. Journal of Mental Health, 12(1): 59-70.

PHABC's 5th Annual
Public Health Summer School

Date: June 23 – 26
Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm PDT

Main locations: UBC, UVic, UNBC, UBC-Oka
Subsites: Kamloops, Smithers, Fort St. John, Castlegar

The Public Health Summer School welcomes participants from a variety of fields and backgrounds who are working directly or indirectly with with public health across the province. The four-day summer school event is divided into two sessions, each over two-days. You can register for one session, but will have the most rewarding experience by attending the full four days.

June 23 and 24 – Supporting and Protecting Health: Promoting Mental Wellness and Addressing Psychoactive Substances
Goal: To build awareness, understanding and skills for promoting and protecting positive well-being by addressing health challenges and using evidence-informed health promoting mechanisms and implementation strategies related to mental health and substance use.

June 25 and 26 – Strengthening Healthy and Sustainable Communities through Local Government Planning and Public Health Collaboration 

Goal: To increase understanding of the key features of healthy and sustainable communities; to increase understanding of the mutually supportive and collaborative roles and activities of local government (municipalities and regional districts) and public health professionals in supporting them and to provide inspiration and ideas for further collaborative action in BC. 

Register now, as space is limited!

Northern BC Citizen Series
The fourth in a series of free webinars offered through a partnership between Northern Health and BCHC. We invite advocates and colleagues to this dialogue about critical northern issues, and recognize that community involvement is the cornerstone to healthy people.

When: June 12th at 1:30-3:30 pm PDT

Learn more and register for Social Retrofit: Equipping Our Communities to Support Aging in Place.

Recommended by Jodi Mucha
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

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