We would like to congratulate our Public Health Champion Award winners.
Individual: Margaret Leslie
Margaret Leslie is Director of the Early Interventions Program at the Canadian Mothercraft Society. Leslie has provided leadership to improve the health of mothers and children through innovative harm reduction, mental health and substance abuse programs for nearly 30 years. She was instrumental in creating Mothercraft's Breaking the Cycle, an initiative that is recognized by the United Nations as a best practice program serving pregnant and parenting women with substance abuse problems.
Organization: Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF)
Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the health of trees. Every year, the city's urban forest sequesters over 46,000 tonnes of carbon – equivalent to the emissions from 31,000 automobiles or 16,000 homes. Carbon, a common pollutant in Toronto's air, is responsible for premature deaths and hospitalizations. LEAF has helped plant more than 20,000 native trees and shrubs in Toronto and in York Region, thus helping to improve air quality since 1996.
Individual: Colin Hughes (posthumous)
For over 25 years, Colin Hughes was a community worker with the Children's Aid Society. A respected child and family poverty activist, his many archievements throughout the years demonstrated his unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children, youth and their families.
Organization: Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition
Over the last 15 years, the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition (TCPC) has provided a leadership role in education and advocacy to prevent the major causes of cancer. TCPC has developed innovative partnerships to improve the health of the whole population.
Individual: Sudharshana Coomarasamy
The recipient in the individual category is Sudharshana Coomarasamy (nee Rajasingam), Community Development Worker and Mental Health counsellor at the St. Josephs Women's Health Centre and an active community volunteer. In 1999, Ms. Coomarasamy co-founded the Tamil Service Providers Coalition (TSPC), which has grown to include approximately 45 member agencies providing a diverse range of services to Tamil communities across Toronto.
Ms. Coomarasamy also initiated the Tamil Woman Abuse Prevention Working Group in 2005. This Working group focuses on identifying gaps in services, and takes action to ensure services are more effectively and equitably delivered within the Tamil populations.
Organization: The Stop Community Food Centre
The recipient in the organization category is The Stop Community Food Centre. The Stop is a thriving community hub where neighbours participate in a broad range of programs that provide healthy food, as well as foster social connections, build food skills and promote civic engagement. The Stop's programs include: community gardens and a Green Barn; community cooking programs; bake ovens and markets; a food bank; drop-in meals; pre- and post-natal nutrition and support program for women living on low incomes; and community advocacy aimed at poverty reduction.
Individual Category - Lillie Johnson
Founding and current board member of the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario (SCAO)
Ms. Johnson is a retired 86 year old registered nurse and educator who has worked tirelessly to promote awareness of sickle cell anemia and its disproportionate impact on racialized populations. She was instrumental in the founding of the SCAO in 1981 as a volunteer advocacy and support group that in its early days operated largely out of her home.
She personally provided counseling and support to many individuals and led advocacy efforts to engage government and health administration officials in adopting coordinated strategies to address the needs of people with sickle cell anemia. Following the receipt by the SCAO of a multi-year funding grant in 2003 from the Trillium Foundation, one of the most significant achievements was the recent inclusion of sickle cell disease to the Ontario newborn screening program.
Organization Category - Community Matters Toronto (CMT)
CMT is a dynamic, grassroots organization of St. James Town residents whose motto is "Neighbours helping neighbours" and whose work helps people speak for themselves, develop skills and help others. CMT was founded 10 years ago to provide a local voice on common issues among residents and provides support to families around housing, finances, employment, citizenship, language and parenting. Recent achievements include improving crosswalk access at a local school and preventing the closure of a school pool.
Programs are run with a Community Assistant Model where residents gain skills by becoming actively involved in programming that benefits the whole community. St. James Town is a densely populated and culturally diverse neighbourhood in downtown Toronto.
Individual Category - Wendy Babcock
Harm Reduction Worker Street Health
Wendy worked as a harm reduction worker at Street Health. She was an outspoken advocate for the safety of sex workers and helped to create numerous projects to promote their health, such as the Safer Stroll Project and the Bad Date Book Coalition.
Sadly, Wendy passed away on August 9, 2011. Her commitment and advocacy for harm reduction and social justice will be missed.
Organization Category - Volunteer Physicians and Dentists
Scarborough Urban Health Outreach Centre
The Volunteer Physicians and Dentists provide care to uninsured and vulnerable individuals and families at the Scarborough Urban Health Outreach Centre. This includes new immigrants (within the 3 month wait period), people who are applying for status or have expired claims, people who are homeless or at risk, and those who have lost or expired health cards.
For more information on our 2008 Public Health Champion Award winners, please view our 2008 news release.
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