HEAL Recognized for Community Impact
The HEAL was honoured as a Finalist for the Pillar Nonprofit Network‘s Community Innovation Award.
The award recognizes people and groups in London and area that invest in positive community impact.
“We are so honoured and humbled to be nominated for this special award!” said Jason Gilliland, Professor of Geography, and Director of HEAL. The mission of the Human Environments Analysis Lab (HEAL) at Western University is to develop highly-skilled researchers and connect them to cross-sectoral collaborators to create, disseminate, and mobilize knowledge that builds healthy, thriving communities.
Established in 2003, HEAL has focused on building innovative community-university partnerships. Gilliland believes “authentic collaboration benefits staff and students with opportunities to develop skills and knowledge, and benefits community partners with HEAL expertise and labour to help meet their evolving needs, build capacity, and broaden impact.”
The HEAL team has applied this approach to tackle some of the most critical issues in the world today, such as childhood obesity, climate change, food security, and social inequity.
The HEAL has collaborated with more than 100 local organizations and committees, and has employed nearly 500 trainees, including high school interns, undergrads, graduate students, and post-docs. Importantly, lab alumni take the HEAL lessons with them as they enter new careers and continue to be active participants in civic life beyond Western.
Among the many community projects the HEAL has undertaken is the administration of the ACT-i-Pass program, which distributes passes to Grade 5 students in London, providing free access to indoor sports, skating and swimming, and other activities. The purpose of the program is to increase a child’s ability to participate in physical activity. A recent journal article evaluated the success of the project and found that the program was effective in increasing physical activity levels, especially for children in urban areas.
The Community Innovation award recognizes organizations that develop new and better ways to address a need in the community despite the many demands and sometimes too few resources. Nominees have found innovative, creative and efficient solutions to make a difference in the lives of others. Their innovative efforts have had a positive impact on the community.