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OHPE Celebrates 500 Issues

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I Introduction

Alison Stirling sent out the first OHPE on May 2, 1997, to 110 subscribers. The bulletin told readers that it was "an experiment" and invited them to "define its value, its content, and its reach."

Nearly 10 years and 500 issues later, OHPE's reach stretches half way around the world to 4,600 subscribers.

The content of our online, searchable database (complete after issue 100) boasts 317 features, 951 print resources, 1,050 internet resources, and 120 resources of other types on diverse health promotion topics. Over 2,000 jobs have been posted, over 1,400 announcements have been made, and over 1,500 events have been advertised.

And its value? As is so often the case, the numbers don't tell us much about value. But those who entered our 500th issue contest did.

You told us that OHPE really works as a network. You told us that OHPE really works as a virtual community. You told us that OHPE changed your lives-really! Imagine the delight of health promoters hearing they had changed people's lives.

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II OHPE as a Network

Karen Beckerman in Toronto extols the value of the OHPE as a network:

Through the Bulletin I discovered The Health Communication Unit, through the THCU I've connected with people from other health units, through those connections I've learned about initiatives in other jurisdictions. I can honestly say that 80% of things I've discovered trace back to the Bulletin somehow!

Dan Allman is in Edinburgh finishing his PhD. He says he wouldn't be able to collect the contest prize even if he won, but he wanted OHPE to know that the

the quality of the OHPE Bulletin has resulted in it being one of the very few information-based e-mailings that I have not come to filter in a to-be-read folder...when it arrives, I read it...I rely on the OHPE Bulletin much as I would rely on Eye Weekly, Now Magazine or XTRA: to keep me in tune with words on the street.

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III OHPE as a virtual community

Christine Post, a health promoter in Peterborough wrote,

I work in a small health unit, with a very limited budget for travel and continuing education. The OHPE Bulletin connects me with ideas, events and research that I would otherwise never have access to. The warm and welcoming tone make me feel part of a community.

The Bulletin also expands my vision of health promotion into areas I might not otherwise expect (e.g., self-help, social determinants).

Similarly, Pat Sanagan told us, "What the e-bulletin means to me or how I learned to love being in my home office!" 

Friday afternoon in Southampton in my little office, looking out on another bleak overcast day. I'm on my own. This is my choice, I know, but lonely sometimes, particularly Friday afternoon when there was usually tea and sympathy in my previous job.
But look, here comes Noelle and the e-bulletin. Maybe some people I know have written something interesting (and after 33 years in the field, I do know a lot of people!). Maybe there will be a provocative article that gets my dander up and motivates me to email others with similar philosophical values, with a commanding, "Did you see the latest OHPE bulletin?"
And before I know it, Friday is over, and I feel like I have connected with my friends and colleagues yet again.

Don't ever go away. We in home offices need you.

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IV Changing Lives--for the Better

Sarah Baker, a Public Health Dietitian in Windsor wrote this entry:

The OHPE bulletin changed my life! As there are so many listservs or email databases out there that can sometimes send you too much information at times, I find the OHPE bulletin to be above the rest. It always provides timely information and links to conferences that I would otherwise not hear about at all! Wondering how the OHPE bulletin changed my life? I found the job posting for my current position a few years ago on the bulletin. As a dietetic intern, my preceptor...informed me of the bulletin, and ever since I have been spreading the bulletin to anyone else I know who is entering the field of health promotion. Thank you for providing such a valuable service!

Rose Bergeron, an author in Peterborough, entitled her entry "How the OHPE changed my life!"

After having spent six years at home looking after my son following his birth in 2000, the time arrived, last September, to go back to work, or, as I often say, "Return to Civilization." After having focused on kissing booboos, making play dough and thinking up reading and math strategies, I had (totally?) lost touch with the current labour market and had let my professional network go moribund. What's available out there? How do I present myself? The fact that I wanted to transition from my previous management and journalism experiences to a new field-- health--represented an extra challenge.

My first step was to go to a local employment service and seek assistance from an employment counsellor. We discussed what I had done in the past and where I wanted to go. I did all my homework.  I wrote a list of my transferable skills. I searched the National Occupation Catalogue for types of employment I would enjoy. I subscribed to numerous e-bulletins, such as the OHPE bulletin. I applied for several positions. Through the OHPE bulletin, I reconnected with some friends who held positions in health-related organizations. Today, I am working as a consultant for the Ontario Self-Help Network, using my organizational, research and interviewing skills to create a directory of French-language self-help groups!

I will continue to subscribe to the OHPE bulleting as its information--events, training opportunities--will remain important to me in my new field!

Two stories, in particular, capture the value, the content, and the reach of the OHPE Bulletin. Joan Njeri wrote,

I am an international graduate student here in Ontario. I am not sure if my story will make a paragraph or two, but this provides an opportunity for me to send you all at OHPE bulletin my most sincere thanks for the work you do to put together this free bulletin. I stumbled on OHPE-Bulletin when a fellow student sent me a link with an event announcement about one year ago. I followed the link and followed it to its source, which lead me to your home page where I subscribed for the e-bulletin. So far this does not sound extraordinary, but here is why the bulletin has been useful for me: Being new to Canada (I have only been here for a little over one year) after moving here to attend grad school with my husband and 2-year-old son, we knew absolutely no one here, other than the small and growing network at my university. So you can imagine I was looking for any and all means to become familiar with the Canadian health promotion network. The e-bulletin became a sort of social support in my quest. Through it I have expanded my knowledge of Canada, especially Ontario, relevant events, jobs and the large health promotion network. I have found conferences advertised (and gone on to present at these), as well as learnt a great deal about organizations and communities around Ontario. Some have already been useful and others have the potential in helping me pursue my short and long-term academic and career goals. Thank you! Thank you! God bless you and keep up the good work. Congratulations on your 500th issue!  

Mandana Attar Zadeh is a volunteer Community Health Educator and freelance Health Promotion Researcher in Toronto, who wrote,

Your great newsletter, OHPE-Bulletin has had a critical role in encouraging me to come to Canada and in helping me to get into my career. To explain how, I need to describe my situation.

I am a newcomer here in Canada and I have been living here for 6 months. I have 7 years experience in field of public health and health promotion in my country. I had made considerable achievements in the field, but I felt a strong need to improve my knowledge and experience in an environment with a longer and richer background in health promotion. Based on my studies, I chose Canada. My application for immigration had been accepted already, but I was not sure that how many job opportunities were there for me, so, I was not sure to come or not.

I discovered OHPE-Bulletin in March 2006 when I was in my country, and I found it very informative, user-friendly and concise. Through it, and especially through the announced job opportunities, I concluded that there are a good bunch of different opportunities in Canada that I can jump at and learn a lot, and at the same time get a good salary to live, so, I decided to come.

This was only the beginning. I got my first volunteer job as a community health educator through OHPE-Bulletin during the second month of my stay. I got connected to health promotion events and got familiar with current priorities and policies for health promotion in Canada, which was especially important for me, because as a newcomer, I did not have many resources for getting information. I found lots of valuable seminars and workshops, in some of them I took part and I got great amount of connection via that. It was great, because the only thing I needed was to sit in front of my computer in Friday nights and open the OHPE-Bulletin page, and everything was there!
Something I feel sorry about is that I just checked the website every week  and I didn't subscribe ,so when you  announced in your survey in newsletter dated on September 29th that you didn't have any reader from Middle East, I sighed, because I knew that at least I was your reader! The funniest thing is that I haven't subscribed yet, so, please subscribe me!

At the end, I just want to thank you very much for all the different ways in which you have helped me in my career and my life.

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V Conclusion

Alison may have been the person who physically sent out the first issue of OHPE, as Noelle does now, but she would be the first to point out (and indeed she did!) that the bulletin is and has always been a collaborative effort.

Simon Mielniczuk, Rick Wilson, and Shaineez Kurji worked as an editorial team in getting the first six issues out. Then we drew in the Centre for Health Promotion in the person of Irv Rootman and THCU in the persons of Larry Hershfield, Lorraine Telford and Noelle Gadon. All along, it has been a collaborative effort, and as such, the OHPE bulletin continues to reflect the ways that people are using the Internet: not only to receive information, but to create, synthesize, contribute to, and reshape content--and even careers-- through collaboration.

The current editorial team sends a heartfelt thanks to those who took the time to tell us their stories. We've enjoyed reading them very much and are only sorry that we didn't have space to print all of them!

This 500th issue is a testament to the commitment of the many people involved in producing the OHPE: your stories are perfect examples of how we all, collectively, make the Bulletin what it is.

Our thanks to you all, from your current OHPE Editorial and Management Team: Noelle Gadon, Bonnie Heath, Larry Hershfield, Robyn Kalda, Alison Stirling, and Jodi Thesenvitz.