Fraser Healthy Communities Forum: Inspiration and Catalyzing Action

Fraser Healthy Communities Forum

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Nearly 150 local government leaders, Fraser Health representatives and community partners flooded the University of Fraser Valley campus to engage in a full day of inspirational presentations, compelling discussion, and catalytic networking. This was the largest event to date involving these sectors, all in the name of collaborative action for healthier communities throughout the Fraser Valley.

The day kicked off with a keynote presentation from Medical Health Officer, Dr. Helena Swinkels, who highlighted the outcomes of the Healthier Community Partnerships (HCPs) and the importance of collaboration to address the social determinants of health. For example, the Live 5-2-1-0 youth obesity prevention program has taken off in six communities in the Fraser region as a result of HCPs. "We know we create better outcomes for our communities by working together," said Dr. Swinkels.

“We know we create better outcomes for our communities by working together."— Dr. Helena Swinkels, Medical Health Officer

To further energize the room, Charles Montgomery, author of the renowned book titled Happy City, took the stage to stress the important relationship between city planning and resident’s health and well-being. “Cities should build health and happiness!” Montgomery exclaimed. Montgomery further expressed how the built environment has profound impacts on our social connections, physical activity levels, and mental health. Additionally, a well-designed community that encompasses principles of mixed land use and well-connected bikeways are more beneficial for the local economy.

The room was buzzing, and the energy was further cultivated during the second half of the day as two concurrent breakout sessions took place; one focusing on Healthy Transportation and Community Planning, the other discussing Mental Health and Social Connections. Participants in the Healthy Transportation session undertook a ‘dotmocracy’ process (a facilitation technique where participants vote on their favourite options using dot stickers) to identify key priorities for transportation planning. While the mental health session invited a panel of youth up on stage to share their experiences in the Valley Youth Partnership for Engagement and Respect (VYPER) program. “Hearing youth voices is critical to advancing any type of public health initiative,” expressed one participant.

By the end of the day, participants took time to discuss and reflect on how this day would impact their work and how they would actualize what they had learned. “It was valuable to network with key individuals from a wide range of organizations,” stated on participant.  “I am taking a way a sense of encouragement at the collaborative spirit of Fraser Health Authority.”

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