Developing a framework to evaluate the health impacts of apartment neighbourhood improvement initiatives such as the Tower Renewal Program in Toronto
Principal Investigators: Roshanak Mehdipanah, Monica Campbell, James Dunn, Graeme Stewart
The purpose of this project is to develop a health evaluation framework that is modifiable and applicable to the majority of programs led by the Tower Renewal office at the City of Toronto Social Development and Finance Division (SDFA) and other place-based interventions seeking to understand their health impact. A realist approach will be used to identify common mechanisms linking apartment neighbourhood revitalization initiatives to specific health outcomes. With this information, a health evaluation framework will be created and potential indicators to measure these links will be developed. The project will also produce knowledge mobilization materials for the application of the framework.
Falling through the Cracks in Employment Services: Improving Social Well-Being through Community-Based Youth Employment Solutions
Principal Investigator: William Sinclair
St. Stephen’s Community House (SSCH) has found that marginalized youth are struggling with unemployment and that current employment programs often fall short in reaching and succeeding with youth facing the most barriers. To address these shortcomings and inform future government youth employment policy, SSCH is proposing a place-based intervention to inform better youth employment programming and policy. Researchers, including youth researchers will connect with priority youth (early school leavers, youth in conflict with the law, and low income youth) to design employment solutions tailored to them and their neighbourhood. The study will focus on the Rockcliffe-Smythe neighbourhood, which has been identified as a low-income community with a high concentration of priority youth and pre-teens.
Green Access Action Research (GreenAAR) Project: Building Local Environmental Leadership to Promote Green Living and Food Security: a place-based pilot initiative in the Taylor Massey neighborhood
Principal Investigators: Yogendra Shakya and Akm Alamgir
Green Access Action Research (GreenAAR) Project aims to build local environmental leadership and knowledge among low-income families in Taylor Massey neighborhood to promote accessible place-based solutions for food security and green living. Ten Taylor Massey residents will be trained and engaged in leadership capacity as Enviro-leaders/Peer Researchers to collaboratively build knowledge and develop accessible local solutions. The project is led by Access Alliance in partnership with Earth Day Canada and Harmony Hall.
Creating a ‘Town Centre’ in a Tower Neighbourhood
Principal Investigators: Nancy Smith Lea and Car Martin
The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) is launching an action-research project called Creating a ‘Town Centre’ in a Tower Neighbourhood. Building on TCAT’s Active Neighbourhoods Canada work in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the goal of this project is to work with community members in Flemingdon Park to explore simple design interventions that can animate public space within Flemingdon where no obvious town centre exists. This project is based on the idea of “tactical urbanism” where small grassroots-led physical interventions make large ripple effects on public space. Dr. Suzanne Jackson, Associate Professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, is leading the evaluation of the project in collaboration with TCAT and Flemingdon community members.
Understanding the health impact of extreme temperatures on homeless populations with a view to enhancing Toronto’s extreme weather plans and responses: developing a research proposal
Principal Investigators: Kate Bassil and Stephen Hwang
People experiencing homelessness are at particular risk from exposure to extreme weather conditions because they spend much of their time outside and may experience difficulty in accessing shelter. However, there is little information available to characterize the impact of extreme temperatures on the health of this vulnerable group. This project aims to gain a better understanding of the impacts of extreme temperature on health, perceptions of risk, and barriers and challenges faced by the homeless population. Ultimately the research findings will provide information needed to develop and enhance targeted public health interventions to mitigate the impacts.
A Guide to Safer Streets near Schools
Principal Investigator: Katie Wittman
This project aims to improve the health of communities by facilitating safer neighbourhoods for children and youth to walk, cycle, and roll to school. The goal is to enhance neighbourhood safety by creating an easy-to-follow guide to the City’s warrant system for reducing speed limits and implementing safe intersection protocols. The guide will be supplemented with research on similar processes in other jurisdictions, supported by syntheses of City of Toronto’s collision data and best practices for crossings, developed with input from groups who have experience with the traffic calming warrant system, and piloted by at least one school before wider dissemination. Parents at participating schools will be invited to share feedback on the draft guide and their pilot experience, and City staff and Councillors will be consulted throughout the process to ensure accuracy, value, and usability.
Promoting Resilient Relationships among Newcomer Youth
Principal Investigators: Chris Rahim and Lisa Randall
“Promoting resilient relationships among newcomer youth” healthy relationships, based on respect and gender equity are fundamental to healthy, resilient communities. However, little research has explored how newcomer youth invent, explore and negotiate gender roles in post migration context. The aim of this research is to better understand what influences newcomer youths’ perceptions of healthy relationships in a cross cultural context. The research is being led by METRAC, a community-based organization that supports victims of gender-based violence and their peers, communities and service, Culture Link, a settlement organization with over 25 years’ experience in developing and delivering settlement services to meet the needs of diverse communities with the assistance of Sketch, a community arts development initiative based in Toronto engaging marginalized young people. Preliminary findings will be shared at a community- wide forum on “Promoting resilient relationships among newcomer youth”, organized by METRAC and Culture Link.
Building Roads Together: Evaluating, Enhancing, and Expanding a Walk and Roll Peer Support Program
Principal Investigators: Farah Naaz Mawani and Susan Lynn Hardie
Building Roads Together is a community-based peer support walking and rolling (with mobility aids) program to reduce mental health inequities and promote inclusion by building capacity for people to lead peer walking groups. It is based on a strong body of evidence demonstrating that peer support; physical activity including walking; and exposure to nature, alone and in combination, improve mental health and well-being. This project will build on the Regent Park pilot to further evaluate, enhance, and expand the program to Regent Park, South Parkdale and Crescent Town residents, and Houselink members, across Toronto. Analyses will compare the program experience between community housing residents, mixed-income community residents, and supportive housing residents within three City of Toronto 2014 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas
Building the economic resiliency of communities: Exploring the acceptability and feasibility of establishing a time bank in St. James Town
Principal Investigator: Andrew Pinto
Low Income Families Together (LIFT) and St. Michael’s Hospital Academic Family Health Team (SMHAFHT) will collaborate on a research study that explores the acceptability and feasibility of establishing a time bank in St. James Town. LIFT is a community-based advocacy organization that has been based in St. James Town since the mid-1980s, and has taken several steps towards establishing the UpLIFT Credit Exchange. SMHAFHT has provided primary health services for a number of years to the St. James Town community. A sixth family practice site, to be launched in spring 2015, will have a focus on meeting the needs of this area. Research within the SMHAFHT is focused on evaluating new interventions around social determinants of health (SDOH). This collaborative research project will help answer questions about community economic resiliency and specifically explore time banking as a potential tool. The findings from this work will advance SDOH interventions from the individual to community level.