EAF recently held our first fundraiser in Calgary to build awareness and provoke critical thinking about non-communicable disease. The night was a great success involving traditional African cuisine, games, speakers, dancing and a thoughtful discussion about how we (YOU) can make a difference in the fight against chronic diseases.
Admittedly nerdy, but I thought the best part of the night (apart from the dinner because I’m a total foodie) was listening to guests discuss how to make change in the fight against NCD’s. There were many interesting ideas and discussions including the use of games to motivate behavior change and the role of positive psychology and community in individual health. The underlying theme of the discussion was it isn’t enough to tell people to eat healthfully and exercise but instead a person has to be invested and in control of their own health to evoke change. For example, if a person has adopted a mentality of positive psychology they embody four qualities: independence, a set of relevant skills, a sense of purpose, and community. So while educating people about the health risks of certain behaviors is a critical component of improving health, it may not be until that person is directly affected by the consequences of the risk (a family member with heart disease or diabetes) will they be motivated to change. Even then, a strong community providing support, motivation and resources are necessary for help empower the individual. What did I learn from all this? Answer: The solution to reducing the prevalence of non-communicable disease is multi-faceted and interdisciplinary. Which is no big surprise but vitally important to keep in mind while developing a strategy. The next questions are: how do we build a strong community? How do we ENGAGE people in their own health? And these are questions we are trying to address at EAF. This summer in Nigeria, Ebele is heading our first pilot project where she is starting to build a community engaged in improving their health through partnerships, interviews and broadcasts.
The other part of the evening that really resonated with me was a speech by Mike Bowerman, Executive Director of EPIC. EPIC is a social enterprise located in downtown Calgary dedicated to providing a space and support to organizations dedicated to positive social and environmental impact. EPIC’s business model is brilliant in that it makes networking inevitable and builds a community of social change within its very walls. Entrepreneurs are able to bounce ideas off each other and build their networks with like-minded social entrepreneurs. This business concept builds on the fundraising discussion and the importance of community in influencing change.
Overall it was a wonderful night and as a volunteer with EAF I was stoked to see people genuinely enjoying themselves and engaging in the evening’s events. Apart from raising funds to launch our pilot project in Nigeria this summer, we got some fresh ideas from attendees and raised further awareness about NCD’s, such a success!
Please comment below if you have any ideas of how we can engage people and educate them about healthy lifestyles or if you have your own thoughts or comments about the fundraisers discussion or how I interpreted it.
P.S. To learn more about EPIC check out their website at http://epicyyc.ca/
www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu (University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center)
Margot is a graduate of Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology. She is interested in pursuing graduate school for Public Health.
The views expressed here are independent and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or directors of EAF