When most people think about being healthy, they think of eating better, exercising more and not smoking. Sure, of course all those individual behaviours have a huge impact on health, but you’ve probably also realized that our environment plays as important a role too.
Fraser Health, as has the Ministry of Health with its “healthier communities” focus, recognizes that where we work, live and play largely determines whether or not we are healthy. However, the lion’s share of Fraser Health business, is about providing health care services – what to do when people get sick. A very small percentage is devoted to prevention and promotion. Yes, FH does immunizations and such at the Public Health Unit, but over the past few years FH has quietly taken a new approach – Healthier Community Partnerships. The idea – that by working with the City of New Westminster, SD 40 and other community stakeholders – policies and initiatives outside of the traditional public health bag of tricks can be implemented to help improve the health of the citizens of New West. Hence health is playing a more active role when it comes to issues like transportation, or community planning, just two examples where health is severely impacted by decisions being made.
A Healthier Community Partnership committee has been up and running for over a year, chaired by the City Social Planner and with representation from a Councillor, SD Trustee, City/School District/FH staff, Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, members of the public and others. More and more you will be hearing what this committee has been up to.
One of the initiatives currently happening is the My Health My Community Survey. Open to all residents 18 yrs and older in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health areas, it seeks to gather information about issues that influence our health, such as transportation, community services, green spaces, and sense of community.
This information will be used to inform policy and programs to help make New Westminster a healthier community. In order to plan for a healthier city, we need to know where we’re at and get a sense of where else we need to go.
Confidentiality is a priority – survey answers and identifying information will be kept on separate computer systems complete with data encryption. We are encouraging everyone to take the survey, as the more responses we have, the better we can assess and plan for a healthier New Westminster.
If you are 18 yrs or older, please take the survey at: www.myhealthmycommunity.org. And yes, there are prizes to be won for participating, including iPads and gift certificates.