Successful program delivery, team-style
Reflecting on the joint development of the project concept by the MFRS, the school, project mentor Dr. Doug Klein* and herself, Dr. Hackett says, “In partnership with the community, school and immigrant organizations, we wanted to provide a comprehensive and accessible weekly program to help families manage competing objectives – food, English and recreation – and have an enjoyable time doing it.”
And based on the participant’s evaluation comments from the 26, two-cohort evening sessions – for which CHANGE staff and volunteers planned nutrition, meal prep and activity programming; and MFRS staff conducted ESL lessons – an educational and enjoyable time was had by all, young and old. Big ‘take-aways’ and favorite experiences from the sessions included:
“New Canadian foods … teaching my children cooking and food preparation … nutrition and label-reading … tasting and eating raw foods (“eating raw vegetables in salads”) … veggies with dips (“very new taste!”) …”
The children commented largely on the physical activities, particularly enjoying the new games. Although there were equally as many positive comments about the food: “I learned that you’re supposed to eat breakfast every morning!” and “Somehow you could add spinach with eggs.” And “If you don’t drink enough water, your pee will get darker.”
While Dr. Finola developed a greater appreciation for the unique challenges faced by immigrant families trying to build homes and lives in a strange, new (cold!) country, she also acquired specific skills, including “the ability to translate complex nutritional information into understandable and engaging messages; the importance of sensitivity in working with low-income families and children; and most of all,” she adds, “the skill of listening and observing in order to learn from the community as much (or more) than I can teach them.”
*Dr. Klein is a family physician and researcher in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta. In 2012, Dr. Klein founded CHANGE Alberta (Canadian Health Advanced by Nutrition and Graded Exercise), a multidisciplinary approach to integrating nutrition and exercise interventions in primary care settings.
About the ELiHP grant program
The Emerging Leaders in Health Promotion (ELiHP) grant program provides funding to help medical students and resident physicians conceive and implement health promotion projects in support of the development of their CanMEDS/FM core competencies, particularly health advocacy.
Sponsored by the Alberta Medical Association, MD Financial Management, the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiary, Joule, ELiHP projects facilitate the growth of physician leadership and advocacy skills in a mentored environment, while enhancing the well-being of the general Alberta population through education, advocacy and innovative care.