How the Resilience Collaborative Raised Awareness Resulting in Change

“Much of the early success of the Resilience Collaborative rested on the creative and resourceful ways it increased awareness on matters pertaining to the CIW, which, in turn, resulted in increased discussion, action plans and change in program and policy.” Gary Machan, AOHC

The reality is that raising awareness about social issues is no small feat, especially in times such as ours, when there are so many things competing for peoples’ attention to the point where many people are expressing concerns about information overload.

The good news is the task of raising such awareness is not an unsurmountable challenge, any more than it need be a big ticket budget item, at least not from the perspective of a CHC committed to advancing this work, such as was the case for the Barrie Community Health Centre.

What Worked Best for Raising Awareness

Getting on television RE: CIW
  1. By far the most effective way to raise awareness is to get on television.
  2. The easiest way to do this is deliver presentations to councils since all sessions are televised (and later aired often dozens of times).
  3. Public presentations were made both to the County of Simcoe and City of Barrie that featured the CIW National Office followed by the Community Worker.
  4. Aside from Council, most local television cable companies have ‘talk shows’ and/or are open to ideas for documentaries/features

Radio coverage RE: CIW
  1. Second to television is radio, especially in a community that has as many commuters as Barrie, and hence a captive audience
  2. For the Resilience Collaborative is radio coverage would often come during special events that were organized in which there would be interviews
  3. An interview schedule was organized by the media point person for the events, which fortunately, all of the major partners had.

Organizing CIW Related Major Public Events
  1. An effective way to raise awareness is to organize major public events
  2. Through the course of its duration the Resilience Collaborative has organized 3 major events timed with the release of national reports
  3. These were all organized by striking up small ad hoc working groups consisting of the key partners, who were than tasked with specific assignments.
  4. We found the best partner for hosting these events were post- secondary institutions since they had auditoriums and break out class rooms that they offered free of charge
  5. Media releases were circulated and interestingly the strongest response came from radio stations.

Spearheading CIW Related journalism/photography contests with school boards
  1. One initiative that provided to be highly successful was partnering with our local school board regarding a journalism contest
  2. We partnered with our local newspaper chain owned by Metroland which produce a special media supplement which featured the winning articles and photos
  3. 40,000 copies were circulated via intermediate youth
  4. We also partners with the MacLaren Art Gallery to display the photos
  5. It should be noted that the most effective way of promoting these events was through social marketing i.e. face book.

Writing CIW newspaper columns and op ed pieces
  1. Another effective way to raise awareness is either approach local reporters, or submit your own articles/oped stories
  2. In the case of the Resilience Collaborative we received coverage both ways; bear in mind, the Community Worker had an established relationship with one of the publishers (very important to do in Community Work).
  3. When working with newspapers it is helpful to have people from your centre who are willing to be interviewed, as all good reporters want to put a face to the story
  4. Local newspaper releases coupled with telephone calls tend to work best to get local coverage (have a camera handy for pictures)

Public Speaking RE: CIW
  1. Over the course of its duration, the Resilience Collaborative has given numerous presentations to a variety of groups about the CIW and some of the reports
  2. The importance of public speaking is it provides a means to broaden the audience and get the message out to groups that otherwise might not be interested.
  3. The duration of these presentations is typically about 40 minutes followed by some sort of Q & A.
  4. The beauty of the CIW is that because it is so broad one can tailor the presentation to whatever focus a group might have

Helpful Resources:

  1.     Steps to Making Presentations to Council
  2.     Sample CIW Newspaper article
  3.     Wellbeing and the environment in Simcoe county