[July 31, 2014 editor’s note: The deadline for applications has been extended to October 15, 2014!]
What makes a healthy community? What’s my role in helping to create a healthy environment in the place where I live and work?
I first really thought about these questions while I was working at a local food bank during my summers off from nursing school. During my time there, I met people from all walks of life who were doing their best to get by in tough circumstances. On top of their financial troubles, many were also facing significant health challenges and I was eager to complete my studies and find a way to “really help.”
After graduating, I took a job in the Northwest Territories working as a rural acute care nurse and spent my days in the emergency department, mostly looking after people with preventable injuries and complications from chronic conditions. Many of the people I helped had similar challenges to the clients I worked with at the food bank: too little money, too much stress and limited resources to cope with it all.
After a particularly long shift, I decided to head out on my bike for some much needed exercise and I found myself reflecting back on my time at the food bank. I was struck with the thought that I still hadn’t found a way to “really help.” I was proud of the work that I was doing but the reality was starting to set in that as a nurse, I didn’t have the capacity to provide the kind of supports that my clients really needed in order to live healthier lives. In fact, the health care system on its own didn’t even have this capacity. Those simple realizations set me on the path to a career in public health and ultimately, to the work that I am now doing with the Healthy Communities Integration Committee in Prince Rupert and Port Edward.
“With rare exceptions, all of your most important achievements on this planet will come from working with others – or, in a word, partnership.” -Paul Farmer
Several years ago, Sheila Gordon-Payne, the Health Services Administrator for Prince Rupert (pictured here with me before another post-work bike ride!), approached me and some colleagues at Northern Health with the task of pulling together a group of community stakeholders to talk about the challenges that we face as a community and to begin some conversation about what we might do to start addressing them. We had representatives from Northern Health, the Transition House, First Nations Communities, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the RCMP, the City, the Senior’s Center, the School District and even the Salvation Army food bank! We called ourselves the Healthy Communities Integration Committee and came to the table as equal partners, each with a part to play in making our community a healthier place to be. We poured over community data and health status indicators for our areas and learned a lot about our local strengths and challenges. In the end, we chose two key focus areas to start our work: youth and seniors.
Today, we are very excited to announce the Partnering for Healthier Communities Grants, available through our Healthy Communities Integration Committee. These grants of up to $3000 are available to support grassroots, multi-sectoral approaches aimed at improving the health and wellness of youth and/or seniors in Prince Rupert and Port Edward. We are looking for proposals that will support collaboration and partnerships and that will have the potential to make a positive impact on seniors and youth.
The deadline for applications is June 3, 2014.
For more information on the Partnering for Healthier Communities Grants, the application process, and opportunities in other northern B.C. communities, please email us at: email@example.com
About Jane Boutette
Jane Boutette is a Public Health Nursing Program Manager for Northern Health. She provides front line clinical and administrative leadership for nurses working in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii. She has a BSc in nursing and a master’s of sience in public health research. Jane is passionate about public health and has a strong interest in community development. In her spare time she loves to be outside at the local ski hill, on the running trails or on a bike!