By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
In April, the Town of Coaldale entered into a partnership with Alberta’s Healthy Communities by Design (HCbD) and Healthy Communities Initiative, branches of Alberta Health Services (AHS) focused on researching and implementing improvements focused on health and wellness.
According to a recent media release, the organizations are piloting a project involving HCbD’s Health Places Action Tool (HPAT) to explore and evaluate six different topic areas within Coaldale, including physical activity, healthy eating, alcohol reduction, tobacco reduction, ultraviolet (UV) protection and cancer screening.
“This pilot project is the first of its kind in combining the knowledge and resources from both Healthy Communities by Design and the Healthy Communities Initiative,” stated Melanie Messier, municipal planning intern at the Town of Coaldale.
A working group dubbed the “Community Champions” was formed – comprising of a number of individuals representing a diverse array of sectors throughout the community. Over the course of seven weeks, the group was tasked with analyzing community feedback and participating in in-depth discussions surrounding the different topic areas.
“The ‘Community Champions’brought different perspectives to the table that allowed us to recognize unique issues within their areas of expertise we would have otherwise not been able to capture,” added Messier. “The pilot would not have been as successful without the invaluable feedback from the working group, as well as the broader community through survey responses.”
The discussions from the working group and the survey responses from the broader community were consolidated into a final report from AHS – which will help inform a number of outcomes, including an action plan that will ultimately guide the town in addressing areas of improvement identified within the final report.
“The report we received from AHS will help us inform a new Healthy Communities Strategic Plan for Coaldale,” Messier pointed out. “The development of a strategic plan will help us tie in actionable steps we can take to achieve the desired outcomes and suggested areas of improvement identified in the HCbD report. What’s more is we can use these opportunities to continue to grow the working relationship between the town and AHS that has developed as part of the pilot.”
The town also identified an opportunity to partner with students at Kate Andrews High School (KAHS).
“One of our main outcomes from the project is a future partnership with KAHS students to make improvements within one of our study areas,” stated Messier. “Access to healthy living conditions can be improved if healthy choices are more readily available and we look forward to working with the youth community to see where we can make changes that will benefit future generations.”