Healthy Tools for Healthy Tots initiative receives provincial recognition
Alberta Health Services (AHS) staff with Fort McMurray’s North Zone Population and Public Health team and Community Wellness team have been recognized for being community and wellness champions in Alberta.
On Oct. 25, AHS staff were recognized in Jasper with the Providing Health Education award (+25,000 population) through Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s annual ChooseWell Community Awards. The award is in recognition of their efforts in promoting mindfulness, healthy eating and active living through education and resources.
“This award is given for providing health education and that’s so meaningful to us. It’s rewarding to do the work that we do. We’re very humbled and honoured to receive the award,” says Carolyn Evancio, a public health promotion facilitator with AHS Population and Public Health in Fort McMurray.
Delivering Tools Across the Region
Over the last year, the AHS teams worked together to create and distribute Healthy Tools for Healthy Tots toolkits across the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
“We recognized that many early-entry programs, childcare centres and day homes, who all worked with young children, had lost resources, learning activities and teaching materials in the 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray,” explains Evancio.
“In the fall of 2016, after we returned to Fort McMurray following the wildfire, we really wanted to do something to give back. We decided that the most effective way that we could assist was by creating an interactive and informative toolkit for caregivers in the region.”
Staff also identified that young children ages 0-5 can be one of the more vulnerable populations following a disaster.
“The wildfire was an emotional and stressful experience for everybody. Families lost their homes and possessions, and some families are still displaced. We know that the stresses and emotions people can experience in a situation like this have the potential to be passed on to children,” says Evancio. “That was why it was so important to create these toolkits.”
“We wanted to ensure children across the region were receiving consistent education about healthy eating, active living, and positive well-being through fun and engaging activities.”
Toolkits, which were packed into large-wheeled totes, included a variety of healthy eating, active living, and positive well-being resources, as well as learning activities, such as activity mats and parachutes. Caregivers also received a laminated long-term use resource guide, teaching aids, and additional resources on a USB stick.
In order to receive the toolkits, caregivers were required to attend an education session.
Staff distributed 49 toolkits to childcare centres, early-entry programs, Indigenous Head Start preschool programs and day homes in the region.
“The toolkits were very well received. The caregivers were very appreciative of our efforts. They’re still using the toolkits on a daily basis, which is fantastic to hear,” adds Evancio.