October 11, 2017

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Woolwich Community Health Centre celebrates Community Health and Wellbeing Week with International Designation

During the week of October 16th, Woolwich Community Health Centre will celebrate Ontario’s Community Health and Wellbeing Week with its official designation as a Baby‑Friendly organization. This designation is the culmination of more than five years of focused effort by the health centre’s inter-professional staff team to implement World Health Organization (WHO) standards for providing rural families with the very best infant feeding, health teaching and support. The Baby‑Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a worldwide program of the WHO and UNICEF. Its aim is to ensure all families receive skilled support and accurate information to safely feed their infants and growing children. To achieve this designation, many volunteers, and all of the health centre’s staff from its three sites in St. Jacobs, Linwood, and Wellesley, were engaged in education and training over the years and months leading up to a three‑day site review by external assessors.

The celebration event will take place on Thursday, October 19, at 9:30‑11:00a.m., at the health centre’s main site in St. Jacobs (10 Parkside Drive). The awarding of the designation will be made by officials from the BFI program, to an audience of health centre staff, Board members, volunteers, clients, partner agencies, and invited guests and dignitaries.

This event is just one of the 100+ events that community health centres across Ontario will be holding during Community Health and Wellbeing Week (October 16‑22), an annual, province-wide initiative to raise awareness about building healthier, more vibrant communities for everyone living in Ontario. This year’s theme is: Health Equity at the Centre. Health equity is a philosophy and set of practices that seeks good health for all by breaking down social, economic and environmental barriers.

“To put health equity at the centre of our work, we strive to understand the diverse needs and unique barriers that impact the people we serve,” says Denise Squire, Executive Director of the Woolwich Community Health Centre. “And to achieve advances in health equity, our centre knows we have to take action on the social conditions that affect the ability of rural residents to access resources and opportunities to be involved in decisions that affect their wellbeing, from the personal level to the systems level. That means finding ways to combat the effects of poverty, low literacy, geographic distances, lack of transportation, and other challenges. It also means finding ways to draw people who are socially isolated into the life of the rural community, and helping to support an inclusive community.”

The focus on health equity at Woolwich Community Health Centre is enabled by many things: our collaborative Community Wellbeing Assessments that engage rural residents and partner agencies; programs, services, and multi-sector partnerships that specifically respond to social conditions that challenge health equity; ongoing client experience surveys; and regular program evaluations by the people who use those programs. Community members are also active participants in running the centre. The centre’s Board of Directors comprises community members, and Board standing committees include additional community representatives. In the delivery of services and programs, community members are involved as members of program planning and advisory groups, and as volunteers delivering services.

Research shows that focusing on health equity in a targeted, local way can increase people’s capacity to stay healthy, and promote trust between the community and health providers – with the ultimate outcomes of fewer people getting sick, less burden on the health care system, and stronger communities.

Background: Community Health and Wellbeing Week is coordinated by the Association of Ontario Health Centres, of which Woolwich Community Health Centre is a member. The Association represents a vibrant network of 107 community-governed primary health care organizations across Ontario. Each is governed by its community members, which equips them to orient services and programs to community needs and focus on populations facing barriers to their best possible health and wellbeing.

For more information about Woolwich Community Health Centre’s event on October 19, please contact Denise Squire, Executive Director, at 519‑664‑3534, ext. 225.

For more information about Community Health and Wellbeing Week events across Ontario, please access the website: www.communityhealthandwellbeing.org