Improving the health of Northerners
The 2015 Healthier You Awards held late last fall was a wonderful way to highlight the innovative work being done across sectors in improving the health of Northerners. Northern Health benefitted with a number of nominations and wins for our staff and partners in health care. The strong role Northern Health plays in our communities was well recognized.
Nominated in two categories for the 2015 Healthier You Awards (including the Health and Wellness Innovator Award category), the POWERPLAY program won the Healthy Workplace for Small Business award. POWERPLAY is a workplace-wellness program with a men’s health focus targeting physical activity and healthy eating. It was developed and implemented in four male-dominated workplaces in Northern British Columbia.
POWERPLAY was designed with messages that would appeal to men, friendly competition and self-monitoring to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The program was piloted by four businesses from October 2014 to March 2015: Two in Prince George (Lomak Bulk Carriers and Excel Transportation), one in Prince Rupert (Ridley Terminals), and one in Terrace (City of Terrace). There were significant increases in physical activity after the program was implemented.
This award is shared by many. Through a multi-sectoral partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society, BC Cancer Agency, Northern Health and researchers at the University of British Columbia and Athabasca University (with funding from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute), there were almost 20 individuals directly responsible for making this program a great success!
One of those responsible is Cherisse Seaton. Cherisse is a Research Coordinator at the Centre for Healthy Living. We had a chance to ask Cherisse a few questions about her work; her answers show her passion for the program and Northern BC:
You were nominated for this award in recognition of a particular aspect of your work – why do you think this project stands out to people?
There has been an increasing focus on men’s health, in part because there is a real gender disparity in health – men access health care at lower rates than women do. There is a need for innovative strategies for reaching more men. The POWERPLAY program was developed to help fill this need and the program was designed to be flexible so it could be implemented in a variety of workplaces in Northern BC.
What would you most like people to know about the work you do?
About half of all cancers can be prevented and we know that lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, as well as healthy eating, and active living can reduce the incidence of cancer. Northern Health, The Canadian Cancer Society, and the BC Cancer Agency are working together to ensure strong and unified services to Northerners, and this project will help inform future harmonized work. As researchers, we are collaborating with the health care agencies to target cancer prevention strategies in Northern BC.
Together the team designed and delivered the POWERPLAY program and ensured that it was evidence-based. For example, we conducted a systematic review of the literature for “best practices” for men’s health promotion. We also brought the preliminary program components to focus groups of men in Prince George to get their feedback and input making the program designed for and by Northern men.
Finally, conducting research also allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs. For the POWERPLAY program, we completed surveys with the program participants both before and after the program was implemented, so we could determine what worked and what didn’t. The feedback we got from program participants is now being used to make further modification to the POWERPLAY program before it is offered at future worksites.
What do you love about living and working in Northern BC?
Although in my position with this project I am a UBC employee, I am located here in Prince George to oversee all the research activities. I am from Prince George, and I value the opportunities to embrace the outdoors, being close to my family, and the close-knit community with all the city amenities.
Would you like to see POWERPLAY in your community? Resources to support POWERPLAY implementation in a variety of male-dominated worksites are under development, and the team is now looking for partners in order to continue to offer the program in workplaces across Northern BC.
If you are interested in partnering with us to offer the award-winning POWERPLAY program please contact the Research Coordinator, Cherisse Seaton (Cherisse.email@example.com).