How Community Health Boards Support Community Partners
INTERVIEW WITH SALLY O’NEILL
Coordinator, Active Pictou County
June 12, 2019
Interviewer: Lynn Langille, CHB Coordinator for Central & East Pictou Community Health Board, Pictou West Community Health Board, and North Shore Area Community Health Board
Tell me a little about yourself and your work…
I grew up in the Annapolis Valley on a farm, so I’ve always been an outdoors person. I moved to Pictou County in 2008. I worked as a community development officer with the Pictou Regional Development Agency, and then in recreation positions that led me to Active Pictou County, where I have been the coordinator since 2016. One of my earlier positions was as a trails coordinator which was funded by a partnership that was initiated through seed monies from the community health boards. These resources created an opportunity for me to change careers and engage in work that I am really passionate about.
What has been your engagement with Community Health Boards?
I often go the members of Community Health Boards for consultation on project work, for connections, and for ideas. Community Health Boards have been partners in a number of active living projects. Just this year, three partnership projects were funded through the Wellness Funds (Central & East Pictou and Pictou West Community Health Boards). One was to include passes to recreation facilities as part of the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library lending system, another was to develop an active transportation framework for Pictou County, and the third was to offer a dance program for youth after school at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre.
One of the most important roles of Community Health Boards is connecting people to each other. Community Health Boards are like a conduit, connecting people and organizations in the community that are all working towards a healthier Pictou County, a healthier population. The Wellness Fund is a catalyst for people to make connections and plan together to create the conditions in communities that allow people to live healthier lives.
Do you think Community Health Boards make a difference in Pictou County?
The Community Health Boards make a huge difference. They provide a large amount of capacity. This includes funding, for smaller projects and to leverage Wellness Funds to secure other funding. The Community Health Board funding commitment shows other funders that the community is invested in the project, which gives the project greater credibility and greater reach. There are also other benefits of Community Health Boards such as partnerships and connections that strengthen the fabric of community organizations working together. This makes everybody stronger.
What would you say to someone thinking of becoming a Community Health Board member?
What a fantastic opportunity to make a really visible and meaningful impact in your community. If you care about the health of your community and the people in your community, I can’t think of a better place to be, a better position to do that from, than from a community health board.