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Together for Healthy Kids Conference: A Model of Collaboration

We've all heard the line about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Our current climate of cutbacks in health, social supports and education only reinforces the need to share our resources in new ways. The challenge is for people and professionals who work with children and youth to begin to see one another as partners and co-advocates.

From June 24-28, we saw the culmination of just such a partnership, when over 800 people from a variety of backgrounds met in Hamilton for an innovative conference and health fair called Together for Healthy Kids. The joint conference was a collaboration between the Canadian Paediatric Society, in celebration of its 75th anniversary, and the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse (OPC), a non-profit organization with a 12 year track record in health promotion and healthy public policy for children and youth. Together for Healthy Kids began as an experiment between two very different organizations: one which represents 2,000 paediatricians with an active voice for the health of children and youth and the other, a catalyst and organizer of community-based initiatives and health promotion resources. Over the past 18 months, this fledgling partnership gave birth to a remarkable conference. No doubt this is only the beginning of what could become a blueprint for greater collective action for children and youth into the next century.

We will be continuing to update people on what is emerging from Prevention Congress. VIII. Something is in the works, that will include an article in the Canadian Pediatric Journal, information on OPCs

web-site and more summaries here in the OHPE Bulletin.

Following is a quick summary of one of the workshops that focused on Collaboration. There were many good resources and activities described, that will soon form a feature for OHPE Bulletin.

Community Collaboration - Pulling Together Differently

Mary Martin Rowe, OPC - host

This excellent workshop that took place at the "Together for Healthy Kids" conference, on June 25, 1998; showcased 5 different presenters views and experiences of Collaboration. Mary Martin Rowe, whose work has long focused on the formation of community coalitions in the field of prevention and health promotion, went beyond the usual role of "hosting" to organizing a true example of collaboration. Mary noted that collaboration could be called "tap-dancing on egg shells", especially these days as everyone is challenged to "collaborate" with a wide variety of other groups and sectors. She asked each of the presenters to prepare for the session by using a framework for their collaboration story, as a guide for what helped and hindered [noted below].

Collaboration Framework

- Process Factors - Understanding the Community; Community Development; Leadership; Communication; Research and Evaluation; Sustainability

- Contextual Factors - Connectedness; History of Working Together; Political Climate; Policies/Regulations; Resources; Catalysts

The five presenters were:

- Ken Ross, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health & Community Services in New Brunswick talking about the big picture of collaboration in changing a mental health system with consumers;

- Rick Kelly, program coordinator for Better Beginnings Etobicoke-Highfield, who spoke of giving children a voice and enriching a community through collaboration;

- Jeanine Piovesana, coordinator of Speech, Language pathology at Thunder Bay health Unit who discussed the Fair Start program and how team players score winning goals;

- Ruth Scofield, Hamilton Community Action Program for Children (CAP-C) & Public Health, speaking on New Choices program with women and teens on substance abuse and parenting; and

- Debra Swan of North Simcoe CAP-C program who described the difficulties of collaborating with agencies and urged people to "say what you mean and mean what you say".

We hope to see a greater exploration of these factors in a future OHPE feature.

Submitted by Alison Stirling