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Erin Gorman, Health Promotion Facilitator, Alberta Health Services

Describe your job, i.e. what do you do, how long have you been doing it, brief description of your organization

I am a Health Promotion Facilitator with Alberta Health Services in Population Public & Indigenous Health. I work on a provincial team the focuses on physical activity promotion to reduce the burden of chronic disease. An important part of our work to increase physical activity levels in Alberta is supporting the creation of active environments that make being physically active the easy choice.

Which area(s) of healthy built environment do you work in? What are some notable projects that you have been or are currently involved in? Are you looking for help with knowledge translation/mobilization of the project outcomes/outputs, or seeking partners and collaborators?

My work on the healthy built environment is focused on areas that support communities to be more physically active. Our key initiative related to healthy built environments is WalkABle Alberta (www.ahs.ca/walk). WalkABle Alberta works with stakeholders from across sectors to support communities to improve walkability and encourage citizens to walk more often. We are continuously striving to improve our program with innovative ways of working and opportunities for collaboration.

Is health promotion, population health, and healthy built environment part of your organization’s mandate and priority? How does your and your organization’s work contribute to improving population health through the built environment?

Health promotion and population health are central to our work. The vision for Alberta Health Services (AHS) is Healthy Albertans. Healthy Communities. Together. Within AHS our division’s mission is to work together with partners to promote health and reduce health inequities for all people in Alberta. In particular, we focus on addressing risk factors of chronic disease, reducing health inequity and working across settings and populations. Improving the built environment is a key strategy to achieve this and create healthy communities. This work involves collaboration across sectors at both the local and provincial levels.

What are some emerging challenges in your province in relation to the built environment?

In Alberta there is a need to support communities of various sizes, demographics and priorities to create healthy built environments. However, municipalities are stretched for funding and have competing interests for these limited funds. We are working to better coordinate and collaborate work in this area across sectors to leverage resources, create connections, share expertise and build capacity within the province to do this work.

There is also a lack of evidence to inform built environment work especially in rural and remote communities. Evaluation of initiatives is essential to not only support local improvements but also contribute to the larger evidence base.

What motivated you to become a forum champion, and what role do you think the forum can play to promote knowledge exchange and network development in HBE in Canada?

I joined the forum with the goal to learn more about how healthy built environment work is being done across the country. The forum has the potential to connect those working in various aspects of the healthy built environment and serve as introduction to those who are new to the topic. I hope the forum can facilitate the sharing of emerging evidence, novel strategies, and lead to national collaborations that support the development of health built environments in Canada.

 

Great to hear about your work Erin and learn more about what is happening in Alberta! Would love to hear more about your insights, learnings re this work in rural and remote communities (i.e. how to avoid that urban-centric lens).