The picture of health

February 25, 2015   ·   0 Comments

How do you picture healthy living? Back in the day, Ontario photos might have included gangly kids skating on rough rural ponds on a Saturday afternoon, struggling up steep toboggan hills in knee deep snow, biking or walking miles to school each day, picking rocks, milking cows and unloading hay along side Mom and Dad and sitting down to a healthy meal made of food grown on the hundred acre farms that surrounded them. How has that picture changed for families? With chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease on the rise, the “Picturing Health in Our Community” Photovoice Project is looking for photos of living healthy in communities like Shelburne to find out what needs to change.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) wants to know how our surroundings affect the choices we make about health. They are asking local residents to take photographs and write captions to be sent to researchers for analysis. Blair Hodgson, the project co-ordinator says, “The photographs will be used to show specific ways that a person’s social, physical and cultural environment can make it easier or harder to engage in healthy behaviours.” WDGPH will use this information to discern where changes can be made in the community to make a healthy lifestyle more accessible.
The Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention team at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) wants to learn how a community’s environment allows residents to conduct their lives in ways that raises or lowers the risk for developing chronic diseases; behaviours such as healthy eating, physical activity, alcohol and tobacco use and injury prevention.
The photographs will be used to facilitate discussions about health in the community. Hodgson says that some of the photographs will be featured in public showcases, presentations and publications if the photographer consents, but that the photographs will not be used to make money.
Anyone, over the age of 12, living in the town of Shelburne, interested in taking photographs of the people, places and things that affect their own health, and community health and lifestyle choices, is welcome to participate. As members of the study, participants will attend a training session, take photographs, write captions, and discuss the pictures in a focus group before they are sent to the researchers.
Participants will have two to four weeks to take photos in Shelburne that show how the environment can affect behaviours towards healthy eating, physical activity, alcohol, tobacco, and injury prevention. “On top of sharing their experiences with the community,” WDGPH says, “participants will have the chance to win one of two $25 gift cards after the training session; a choice of a $30 gift card to No Frills, Giant Tiger or Tim Horton’s after the focus group; a free dinner at both sessions; and their photos displayed in a public showcase.”
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is interested in learning how the organization can work “to make the healthiest options the easiest options in your community.” Training will take place Monday, March 9th from 5:30 – 8 p.m. and the focus group will take place on Monday, March 23rd from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at the Mel Lloyd Centre, 167 Centre Street in Shelburne. Those interested in participating should contact Blair Hodgson at or call 647-281-5540.

By Marni Walsh



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