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Emerging Networks

A. INTRODUCTION - Moving from Network Theory to the New Reality

- Get Your Address Book & Rolodex Out & Prepare for Surveys!

This week follows from last week's feature on network analysis and using networks for health activities - only now, we take a look at some emerging networks that you will be hearing about in the next few months. These are exciting developments - new collaborations, networks and coalitions of groups who want to build stronger voices around key issues AND to ensure that they are not duplicating any other initiative by building on each others strengths. You may experience these new initiatives as "another survey" or another request for you to pass on all your key contacts, best resources, and review case studies and stories. Have patience - these new networks are finding new ways to gather information and share it broadly, to advocate and research on key issues and to share resources among many organizations and communities. It means a time for concentrated information gathering and seeing many of the same people over and over. Over the next few months we look forward to seeing more news and resources from these emergent networks.

In the following messages and requests there are many issues being developed into projects and networks - mental health promotion, youth health, women's health, healthy environments, children's environmental health, regional networking. But none are as comprehensive as the work being done to "map" all the health information networks, in preparation for the development of a national health information centre that links the knowledge and resources of health promotion organizations with

inquiries from the general public and from 'health intermediaries'. This initiative is briefly described below, and will be explored in next week's Bulletin.



The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is working in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and Health Canada to document what is happening in Canada in the field of Mental Health Promotion.

Mental Health Promotion can be described in many ways and can be all-encompassing, but for the purposes of this project, it is expressed as follows:

"Mental Health Promotion is the process of enhancing the capacity of

individuals and communities to take control over their lives and improve their mental health. Mental Health Promotion uses strategies that foster supportive environments and individual resilience, while showing respect for culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity."

(Proceedings of a Workshop on Mental Health Promotion, June 20 - 21, 1996, Toronto, Ontario)

CPHA would value your assistance in providing information about the projects and activities that are already taking place across Canada. If you can identify some or all of the characteristics included in

the expression of Mental Health Promotion above in any of the projects or activities that you are involved in, or of which you have knowledge, please contact Dr. Liz Roberts at CPHA to obtain an information package and a copy of the PROJECT/ACTIVITY INFORMATION SHEET.

The Project/Activity Information Sheet asks for a brief description of the project or activity and for a contact person to be identified. Each contact person will receive a personal telephone call and will

have the opportunity to provide more detailed information. We are asking for Project/Activity Information Sheets to be completed and RETURNED TO CPHA BY FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 1998.

Information can be obtained from or returned to:

Dr. Liz Roberts

Mental Health Promotion Project

Canadian Public Health Association

400-1565 Carling Avenue

Ottawa, Ontario. K1Z 8R1

Telephone: 613-725-3769, extension 150

Fax: 613-725-9826


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ii) Youth-Led Health Promotion: Who is Out There Doing It and What Can

We Learn From Them?

Do you know of individuals involved with youth led organizations (school-based, community-based, religion affilitated, service club affiliates, etc.)? The youth led groups need not currently be focusing on health issues, but do have the potential to. Others may be directly

associated with health issues. The contacts could be youth, adults who are working with youth or individuals who are not directly involved, but know a group.

The Coalition of Ontario Agencies for School Health is undertaking a research project to find out more about youth led groups in the province. Some of the questions to be asked include:

What is the purpose of the group?

What is their main focus?

What is their reach (local, regional, provincial, national)?

When did they form?

Are they still together?

How were they formed?

Who are their members?

Age range of the group?

Culture of the group?

What are the keys to success of the group (especially with regards to sustainability)?

To find out the answers to these questions (and more) I need to speak with individuals from around the province. Given the limited funding, some key informants will complete a telephone interview. The remaining will be asked to complete a written questionnaire.

IF YOU KNOW of a person(s) that we could learn from please email their names, affiliations (e.g. youth directly involved with a group; teacher; public health nurse who works with youth groups, etc.); geographic location; phone numbers, addresses and email addresses if applicable.

Interviews are expected to take place in April and May, 1998. A final report will be shared with COASH in June. Stay tuned to future issues of the OHPE Bulletin for more information on youth-led health promotion.

Email Cindy Andrew at

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iii) The Ontario Women's Health Network Resource Inventory Project Needs to Know...

The Ontario Women's Health Network Resource Inventory Project (sponsored by the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse/Innovaction) aims to identify, and catalogue a listing of women's health services, programs and resources available throughout Ontario. Our initial priority is the collection of [women-oriented] health promotion and health education materials produced in Ontario that reflect a gender-sensitive determinants-of-health approach.

If you provide service to women, publish resources for women, or have a resource centre for women, we would like to include you in our inventory. This will help us to provide as complete as possible a picture of the resources available to women in our province and will give you the opportunity to make your services more widely known. We

also hope that by being included in our database we will be helping to facilitate networking among women and among service providers in the province and, through the CWHN, across the country.

This Project, in conjunction with community partners and key informants, will be developing a comprehensive database of resources on women's health in Ontario. The database will provide online access to print, audio-visual and electronic resources, women's health organizations and individuals involved in the field and relevant events

and programs. A database will be set up of this inventory and will be shared with the Canadian Women's Health Network (CWHN) and available to women all across Ontario.

We hope this database will be a valuable tool to you and the women you serve.

Lisa Betel,

Project Coordinator

Ontario Women's Health Network Resource Inventory Project

E-Mail: Fax: 416-408-2122

Tel: toll-free (800) 263-2856 or (416) 408-2121 ext 256

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iv) Network Mapping for the National Population Health Clearinghouse

[more on this initiative in next week's OHPE Bulletin!]

The federal government is developing a Canadian health information system to facilitate improved access to health information. Health Canada is directing the federal contribution to this system, known as the Canadian Health Info-Structure. It is acting as a catalyst and coordinating a series of inter-related activities:

- implementing three federal initiatives:

> electronic national health surveillance network;

> health information system tailored to the needs of First Nations;

> national population health clearinghouse.

The National Population Health Clearinghouse (NPHC) will provide both the general public and health intermediaries with a gateway to the most credible, timely and accessible health information existing in the public domain. NPHC is currently in the developmental stages.

One of the goals of this project is to enhance the already existing network of health information providers, not duplicate existing services.


A number of contractors across Canada are currently (in Feb.- March 1998) drawing an initial map of the network of providers of health information. They are also assessing the types of information available and the means by which consumers and health intermediaries can access this information. It is hoped that these networks will form the backbone of the NPHC.

Based on the results of the Research Phase, 7 age/life stages, 5 regions and 12 specific content areas are being explored. The following are the preliminary categories, with further expansions expected as the project develops:

Life Stage/Population:

Child, Youth, Adult, Women ,Seniors, Disabilities, First Nations/Aboriginal, and Minorities/Multicultural


Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba/Saskatchewan, Alberta/BC/Territories.

Specific Content Areas:

HIV/AIDS, Violence, Cancer, Alternative Health, Mental Health, Active Living/Nutrition, Injury Prevention, Substance Abuse/Tobacco, Relationships, Workplace/Environmental, Sexuality/STDs and Fertility.

How will it happen? The Region Network Mapping in Ontario involves identifying a list of 100 key organizations in Ontario who are involved in community health promotion and/or have a general health information mandate across a region or the province. From this list, an "expert panel" will be asked to prioritize 50 organizations for in-depth interviews and analysis of their contributions to health promotion

in the province. The final report will identify gaps, issues, and make recommendations on top sources of information, and ways to build upon and strengthen existing networks.

So, YOU may be contacted soon!



We want to talk to you about a new Ontario Women's Health Network

With funding from Health Canada, the DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) is sponsoring a project to help organize a women's health network in the six regions of Ontario (NorthWest, NorthEast, SouthWest, Central West, Central East and East) - and for Ontario as a whole.

We hope you and your group will take part in this process!

Regional Organizers in each region would like to contact the many groups and agencies working on women's health issues in these regions to discuss this project. Duration of this first phase of the project is very short - March to mid-May 1998 - so please contact your local regional organizer (below) as soon as possible!

Provincial Coordinator: Beth Mairs

Northwestern Ontario: Dianna Leeder [Thunder Bay & District] and Marion MacAdam Kenora-Rainy-River]

Southwestern Ontario: Marnie Coulson

Central West: Liz Armstrong

Central East: Doris Rajan ph/fax 905-619-0726

Eastern Ontario: Lisa Coy


The Ontario Women's Health Network (OWHN) has a brand new email distribution list for news, resources, information and discussion exchange among women interested and involved in women's health across Ontario.

To participate in this email list, please provide your name, city or town and your e-mail address to Alison Stirling by sending her an email at:

To send a message to everyone on the OWHN list with questions, news, views and more - just send an email message to: OWHN-L@OPC.ON.CA.

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a) The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition & Health Canada/Environment Canada CAP Health & Environment Partnership project

The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC) has been exemplary in its activities in supporting the development of local, regional and provincial healthy city / community partnerships using the Healthy Communities approach of wide community participation, multi-sectoral involvement, local government partnership and the creation of healthy public policy. OHCC's 8 Community Animators provide on-going consultation, training and support to 86 Ontario communities in addition to hundreds of additional contacts, organizations and projects which they link with. In networking and partnership activities, OHCC can "write the book".

A new initiative is the enhancement of OHCCs partnership with Health Canada and Environment Canada's Community Animation Program. The three main areas of activity of this partnership include:

information sharing / communications; Community Animation; and Networking / Conferences.

As part of their partnership OHCC will be preparing a Healthy Communities health / environment inventory for Ontario to include:

local activity on health / environment issues in the Healthy Communities movement; and, feedback from communities on local interests in health / environment issues and level of interest in health / environment.

In concert with other health and environment initiatives, the OHCC will be strengthening the links and capabilities of local groups and individuals to take action on these issues.

b) A Children's Environmental Health Network

OHPE readers may recall the recent conferences on "The Air Children Breathe" January 19-20th (see OHPE #33.0 and the web-site for the conference - and the Canadian Institute for Child Health conference in May 1997 on "Environmental Contaminants and Children's Health" These two conferences helped to forge the beginnings of a new network. The Toronto Department of Health, working in conjunction with the Ontario Public Health Association, Pollution Probe and the Canadian Institute for Child Health is determining the feasibility of establishing a Children's Environmental Health Network for the province of Ontario. The goal of the proposed network would be to better protect children from environmental hazards.

The careful planning for this emergent network is seen in a note from one of the working group:

"We are at a very PRELIMINARY stage, and simply want to get a sense of what's involved in setting up a network, based on related examples such as your clearinghouse. Our report will include brief write-ups (in the appendix) of about 5 - 10 websites/ computer-based networks, and/or resource centres. This will give the group of us involved in planning our network a sense of the possibilities, and will bring us back to reality in terms of what we could possibly fund-raise for.

The big piece in our project is a survey of about 200 Ontario agencies with a focus on children's/and/or health matters. This survey is designed to assess level of support for the creation of our network, and to permit would-be future users to shape the creation of the network by indicating what would benefit them most, both in terms of network function, and method of disseminating information etc. We are also developing a list of agency website and information resources."

We look forward to learning the results of the surveys and case studies - a model for many in the development of new networks!

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iii) The Alliance for Health Promotion in Eastern Ontario

As reported in OHPE #35.0 on January 5th and again in the first message of this Bulletin #45.0 - there is a new network or alliance for health promotion in eastern Ontario. In 1996 and 1997, Eastern Ontario health Promotion Practitioners met to develop the Centre for Health Promotion's 1997 Health Promotion Summer School curriculum.

Many involved in planning this successful event identified other ongoing areas of interest, and have continued to meet as the Alliance for Health Promotion in Eastern Ontario. Current membership includes individuals working in public health, community health centres, college and university programs, hospital services, local associations/ foundations, the Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Toronto, and the Ontario Prevention Clearinghouse.

During a recent meeting, Alliance members determined that they will focus on the following priorities:

* identifying and facilitating the provision of training opportunities for Health Promoters of EasternOntario

* organizing to advocate effectively for health promotion;

* developing a regional network/coalition focusing on health promotion and prevention issues; and

* providing support for health promotion personnel.

A workshop is being held April 7, 1998 at 7 pm on "Promoting Health - Making the Case" (see previous message)

Those interested in learning more about the Alliance or its first workshop can call: Bonnie Dinning at the Ottawa-Carleton Health Department (613) 724-4122 ext 3613 or Sherryl Smith at the Somerset West Community Health Centre (613) 238-8210 ext 339