Artifacts and musings throughout HS 3250G

Archive for February, 2013

Let’s Talk Day

Bell “Let’s Talk” promotional photo with Olympian Clara Hughes

Today is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk day in support of mental health. I thought it was fantastic the huge use of rechnology for the benefit of health promotion in that for every tweet containing #BellLetsTalk and every text and long distance call made by Bell customers. I actually received advance warning of this day via text from Bell and the commercials have been everywhere. Bell is even donating for every share of their Let’s Talk promo pictures on Facebook and I do think that the campaign is working since it is everywhere, people are actually discussing mental health. And I think that’s fantastic considering 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life and that is too many people for it to be kept as silent as it generally is in the public sphere. Mental health also received a lot of attention in the campaign platforms of the slates of this year’s USC election, which were highly publicized on campus to reach as many students as possible, through social media again. I think it is great that Let’s Talk will support local mental health initiatives because charity begins at home and mental health is a global issue so if more people are informed about how to get help and their options and about mental health in general, we can begin to extend initiatives like this to a more global scale.


A Quick Thought

I saw today on my News 360 app an article commenting on how the UK allowing gay marriage now will lower health care costs and improve public health which made me think of this week’s current event article about how coming out is good for one’s health. I think it is a great thing how many European countries and American states are now passing laws to allow same-sex marriage and that the world population has generally become much more accepting towards homosexuals. Not just that but people in developed countries are now trying to use social media and internet petitions to fight for the rights of homosexuals in less developed nations, some of which put homosexuals to death. As such, this movement has an impact on global health promotion not just on the localized effects of passing laws in more progressive countries but as more people are able to come out and be comfortable with their identities and see that society stands behind them and supports their rights, more people will be able to try and promote change where people do not have the ability to love who they want to and express their true selves. Either way, the latest movements for equal marriage rights is a step in the right direction for health and it makes me very happy.

Western Culture

The discussion in class of the culture at Western made me think of how we stuck to describing only positive or neutral aspects of our reputation or culture– the silly things like the Uggs and Goose jackets and so on or the fact that we wear purple and have school spirit. Although I was disappointed that no one mentioned the new culture of caring that has developed at Western through popular online forums like Umentioned Western on Facebook. Which has a lot to do with health promotion because of the fact that Western students are turning to each other as strangers in the same community for social support with mental health issues. Which brings me to the fact that we didn’t discuss any of the negative parts of the Western culture…not really. I mean, it was mentioned about the “party school” reputation, which is somewhat true I find. Western does have a very strong drinking culture, no matter what the administration seems to try and do in terms of health promotion strategies to reduce binge drinking. And it made me think of how that drinking culture has a darker side that relates to sexual assault on campus. On Umentioned Western, a lot of rape survivors have been coming out with their stories lately and discussing the depression and fear that followed. Some spoke of social victimization after the fact, which is horrendous, but I am not entirely surprised because there is a subculture of very mean, catty people at Western within the friendly outer culture. We definitely have a prominent rape culture on campus, as I have been noticed, as I examine this fact for HS 4292 with Dr. Orchard. We’re not the only school but since we have such a strong party culture and the culture of “biddies and bros” and a thriving Greek scene (frats and sororities), which is unlike many other Canadian schools, it is much worse. And not enough is being done to counteract this culture. Sure, in terms of health promotion they offer counselling for rape survivors and all-women self-defence classes but I want to go to a school where that isn’t necessary because we’ve come up with the proper programs that teach people not to rape or to objectify/dehumanize women in the first place.

A Current Event Reflection

I read an article on BBC News Wales today titled “13,000 cancer deaths¬† ‘can be prevented'” (found at¬† The World Cancer Research Fund ran a study on public conceptions about cancer and evidently 28% of Britons believe that there isn’t anything that can be done to prevent cancer (BBC News). They found that there were a lot of myths surrounding what causes cancer and prevention and proposed that they government take immediate action to improve public knowledge and increase awareness about actions they can take to prevent cancer and to eradicate the myths. Without such action, the WCRF posited that there could be up to 6 million preventable cancer deaths per year by 2025 (BBC News).

This piece relates to health promotion because of the fact that it entails public health promotion programs but also because of the fact that the common myth is that cancer is a condition that affects developed nations. This is completely untrue- cancer is a world-wide killer. However, through proper sun protection, being active and eating healthy, so many cases of cancer could be prevented but people don’t realize this. As such, governments need to immediately develop promotion strategies that partner with existing ones about activity and proper diet and tailor them to be more effective in directly addressing the needs of the population in a way that is manageable for these people to affect the healthy changes needed. Millions of health care dollars are already being spent dealing with the health effects that occur from not being active or eating well (i.e. obesity leading to coronary heart disease and diabetes), however to learn that by eradicating obesity, we could also be cutting down on cancer deaths, makes the issue seem that much more important in terms of health promotion. Getting the public educated is a major first step in the cancer prevention goal because cancer itself is often a major motivator for change. People are terrified of it and everyone has been touched by cancer in some way.

This article stuck out to me as being important as my grandfather recently passed away from colon cancer, after having beaten prostate cancer several years before. Cancer research is a huge issue in medicine and receives a lot of attention and I believe that cancer prevention should receive equal focus in the media because it is extremely important.

Western Heads East CSL group first meeting

I wanted to reflect on the first meeting that my CSL group had with our community partner, Western Heads East.

Firstly, I am so excited that for our involvement in this project we will have the opportunity to learn Swahili, which is something I have always wanted to do. It was also an awesome discovery that one of the members of our group is already fluent in Swahili as she was born in Tanzania.

We began the meeting by learning about the foundations of Western Heads East and I was amazed at how far reaching the project is. I was previously unaware that in Tanzania alone they have about ten sites and they have a few in Kenya as well and are hoping to expand further through Africa. I also didn’t realized that they addressed issues like the transmission of waterborne diseases in their programs as I had previously thought that they were just about using yoghurt to combat HIV/AIDS. I also didn’t realize just how widespread this initiative was through Western in the fact that not only do they have the Faculty of Health Science involved through this class partnering with them but they also have Schulich involved and the Faculty of Education and also the affiliate colleges. Which is amazing considering that Western Heads East was only founded in 2002.

It was decided that since the two task group’s projects overlapped, we would combine to form one group and prepare one report at the end together. Bob, our community partner, was very pleased at the “synergy” and I really liked the use of that word because it felt very apt in the moment. The two groups came together very well and it seems so far that cooperation will be easy.

Towards then end, we had a discussion which reminded me of the McWilliam’s article and the other pieces on effective partnering. We discussed how to work cross culturally without silencing the people that we’re working with by asking them what they see themselves needing instead of us telling them how we intend to solve “their” problems. It was brought up that the issues that we’re working with as part of Western Heads East are not just “their” problems but the problems of the world and we also discussed having to let go of our own culture and be open to learning to foster the partnerships. We also discussed the idea of the “power of a single story” which one group member heard of in a TED talk and how the stories we tell people of travels shape others perceptions of that place so we all come into this with a “story” of Africa but we have to be prepared to let go of that story and write a new one as we learn from our experiences working with WHE.

What bothered me was the fact that the students who went on the intersession trip were upset by the African students always asking them for things, even at the end celebration when they had know each other for some time. Maybe it is because recently a professor for another class spoke to us about her anthropological work in very poor North American neighbourhoods and mentioned that people were always asking her for money but that we have to put aside things like this to be able to focus on the job at hand, but I didn’t understand how these students didn’t get that while they thought they were “poor students” they had so much more priviledge and more resources than some of these African students would ever have in their lives. It seemed spoiled to me that they didn’t get it. And I had a long discussion with my mother yesterday evening about foreign aid and Western priviledge and the complete lack of perspective and empathy or understanding that so many people, especially the upper class students at this school have towards people who are in different situations than them. It made me think that classes like this one, or at least a CSL credit, should be mandatory for all students so that maybe they would have somewhat a better sense of the world. For instance, I thought it was so mean that the intersession students talked about going on safari in front of students who, while having lived in Tanzania their entire life, had never been able to afford to do so but would have loved to. More must be done to teach youth to unpack their white-priviledged notions.