Since 2015, the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Region of Peel and William Osler Health System, with the City of Brampton and local school boards, have been working in collaboration with a diverse group of engaged community partners to address population health through an innovative enterprise known as the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI). The need for the collaborative effort is underscored by the fact that the Central West LHIN has the highest rate of diabetes in the province.

Addressing the prevalence of chronic disease requires the support of an entire community, which is why HCI has been working with stakeholders across six different settings including schools, places of worship, recreation, health care, workplaces and the built environment. Some of HCI’s greatest momentum has come from the school setting. Twenty-six schools across Brampton are now committed to HCI’s simple “5-2-1-0” prescription for promoting and maintaining good health: eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day; limit ‘screen time’ to two hours per day; be physically active for at least one hour per day; and consume zero sugar-sweetened beverages throughout the day.

Through the collaboration, partners have been pushed to demonstrate system leadership, create enabling environments and to support individuals in their abilities to make healthy choices. A number of comprehensive projects have been undertaken to promote healthy eating and active living, including a menu-labelling initiative expected to be launched later in November at the Ontario Khalsa Darbar, a Sikh gurdwara and major GTA faith setting. Serving more than 1,000 free meals a day (langar), congregants will soon be provided with important nutritional information regarding their meals.

“Working in partnership with local health system leaders and community partners such as the Stop Diabetes Foundation has been an exciting opportunity to develop this innovative initiative,” said Jaskaran Singh Sandhu, World Sikh Organization of Canada executive director. “Menu labelling langar is likely a first anywhere in the world and demonstrates how health and well-being can be promoted in creative and resourceful ways.”

To celebrate the efforts of the community partners, an HCI Celebration event, featuring a variety of interactive activities and giveaways, will be hosted by local celebrity Jam Gamble, at the Brampton Soccer Center on Nov. 6. Attendees will be encouraged to think about how they can be champions of healthy change in their communities. The event will also showcase some of HCI’s
non-traditional partners including social media influencers Akanksha (@aka_naach), a dance and fitness enthusiast, and Nazima Qureshi (@nutritionbynaz), a registered dietician, who are both proudly serving as HCI ambassadors through 2019.