Two-year-old Lyla Andris does lunges with mom

Two-year-old Lyla Andris does lunges with mom

‘Pulling together’ for better health

Grab an oar, Chilliwack, and help pull this community into better health by taking part in programs from a health foundation

Grab an oar, Chilliwack, and help pull this community into better health by taking part in programs soon to come from the new Chilliwack Hospital and Health Care Foundation.

“We all need to become a part of this and grab an oar,” Chilliwack businessman Harry Mertin said about the new fundraising foundation.

“If we do that, there will be such a wake behind this boat … you won’t believe it,” he said.

“We will have health care costs under better control, and we will have people not going to hospital unnecessarily, which means the people who do go will get better treatment sooner.”

The Chilliwack foundation is taking a new approach to fundraising, an approach that clearly has former B.C. Health Minister John Jansen and UFV President Mark Evered excited about the possibilities.

Jansen and Evered signed a partnership Thursday that will see the foundation and university work together on developing new community health initiatives.

“We’re doing things that is looking outside the box, a first in the province, and it’s going to make a huge difference,” Jansen said after the signing event held at the Cheam Leisure Centre.

He said the Health Sciences faculty at the new UFV campus will work with the foundation “to find ways to involve the community in being more healthy and cognizant of health issues.”

And Chilliwack, a proven leader in community health initiatives, appears ready for the new fundraising concept that asks not just for donations, but for everyone to take an active role in creating health programs.

“The enthusiasm level out there is just phenomenal,” Jansen said. “Our community is different. We have a different footprint, and I think we can really do something here that is unique.”

Harv McCullough, UFV’s vice-president external and former dean of the Trades and Technology faculty, said the partnership with the new foundation is a natural fit for the university.

“We’re both working toward a healthy community,” he said, and when government is cutting back on post-secondary spending, the university needs to find alternate funding sources like corporate and private donations.

“It’s a new (fundraising) concept here for us, and that’s the message we need to get out, and another way of getting that out is through the new foundation,” he said.

“The general public doesn’t seem to realize the need to find additional funding sources,” he said.

And while UFV students in programs like nursing, dentistry and kinesiology at the Health Sciences will be directly involved in studies leading to new solutions to community health problems, students in trades training are also learning about safe practices and safe building materials that contribute to better health.

“If you save an injury, sometimes you can save a life — and that’s healthy living,” McCullough said.

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O’Mahony said in a letter of support for the foundation that she is “exceptionally pleased” that prevention is the cornerstone of the community health campaign.

She also said she is “deeply troubled” by health indicators for Chilliwack and Hope that found the two communities have the lowest overall life expectancy at birth than any other in the Fraser Health Authority region.

The profile also found:

– Chilliwack and Hope have the region’s highest rates of hospitalization and death attributable to tobacco;

– the highest incidence of colorectal cancer in women;

– Hope has the highest rate of prostate cancer and the second-highest rate of breast cancer.

– Chilliwack, Hope and Agassiz/Harrison have the highest rates of cardiovascular disease and suicide.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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