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Building Roads Together: a peer-led, community-based walking and rolling peer support program for inclusion and mental health

  • Innovations in Policy and Practice
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Abstract

Setting

The program founder selected Regent Park for Building Roads Together© pilot program implementation because it is one of 31 neighbourhoods identified by the City of Toronto as a Neighbourhood Improvement Area based on a low Neighbourhood Equity Benchmark score indicating that it faces serious inequities requiring immediate action. In addition, Regent Park has a higher than average proportion of residents who are recent immigrants, and is Canada’s first social housing development undergoing a 25-year process of transformation to a mixed-income community. Community partners confirmed that Building Roads Together responded to community needs and complemented existing programs and supports.

Intervention

Building Roads Together is an award-winning community-based peer support walking and rolling program designed to promote inclusion and reduce health inequities. Strong bodies of evidence demonstrate that peer support, walking, and exposure to green space, each on their own or in combination, reduce social isolation and improve health and mental health. The program founder designed Building Roads Together based on this research evidence; a needs assessment including interviews, focus groups, and meetings; and her lived experience.

Outcomes

The needs assessment informed program design, including name, goals, approach, and curriculum. Building Roads Together includes the following phases: (1) Community engagement; (2) Partnership development; (3) Neighbourhood-based Walk the Talk Advisory Groups; (4) Peer Walking/Rolling Group Leadership Training; (5) Mentoring/Support; (6) Peer Walking/Rolling Groups. The training curriculum combines peer leadership, inclusion, and communication skills; practical skills required to create and manage a walking group; and information about urban green space.

Implications

In partnership with the Centre for Learning & Development Toronto and the Regent Park Community Health Centre, the program founder trained 42 peer walking group leaders and mentored multiple walking groups.

Résumé

Lieu

Le fondateur du programme a choisi Regent Park pour la mise en œuvre du programme pilote Building Roads Together© car il s’agit de l’un des 31 quartiers identifiés par la ville de Toronto comme une zone d’amélioration du quartier sur la base d’un faible score de référence pour l’équité du quartier indiquant qu’il fait face à de graves iniquités nécessitant action immédiate. En plus, Regent Park a une proportion supérieure à la moyenne de résidents qui sont des immigrants récents, et est le premier ensemble de logements sociaux au Canada à subir un processus de transformation de 25 ans en une communauté à revenu mixte. Les partenaires communautaires ont confirmé que Building Roads Together répondait aux besoins de la communauté et complétait les programmes et soutiens existants.

Intervention

Building Roads Together est un programme communautaire de marche et de roulement de soutien par les pairs conçu pour promouvoir l’inclusion et réduire les inégalités en matière de santé. Des preuves solides démontrent que le soutien par les pairs, la marche, et l’exposition à l’espace vert, individuellement ou en combinaison, réduisent l’isolement social et améliorent la santé et la santé mentale. La fondatrice du programme a conçu Building Roads Together sur la base de ces données de recherche; d’une évaluation des besoins, notamment des entretiens, des groupes de discussion et des réunions; et de son expérience vécue.

Résultats

L’évaluation des besoins a informé la conception du programme, y compris le nom, les objectifs, l’approche et le curriculum. Building Roads Together comprend les phases suivantes : 1) Engagement communautaire; 2) Développement de partenariats; 3) Groupes consultatifs Walk the Talk, basés dans le quartier; 4) Formation en leadership de groupe de marche / roulement par les pairs; 5) Mentorat / soutien; 6) Groupes de marche / roulement entre pairs. Le programme de formation combine des compétences de leadership, d’inclusion, et de communication entre pairs; des compétences pratiques requises pour créer et gérer un groupe de marche; et des informations sur les espaces verts urbains.

Implications

En partenariat avec le Centre for Learning & Development Toronto et le Regent Park Community Health Centre, le fondateur du programme a formé 42 chefs de groupe de marche par les pairs et encadré plusieurs groupes de marche.

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Notes

  1. The Neighbourhood Equity Score is a “single number designed to capture the total weight of unnecessary, unfair, and unjust differences faced by neighbourhood residents in five key areas: economic opportunities, social development, healthy lives, participation and decision-making and physical surroundings” (City of Toronto 2014)

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Correspondence to Farah N. Mawani.

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Mawani, F.N., Ibrahim, S. Building Roads Together: a peer-led, community-based walking and rolling peer support program for inclusion and mental health. Can J Public Health 112, 142–151 (2021). https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-020-00374-7

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