Community Action for Health Equity was a comprehensive health promotion intervention using the principles of community development. Through a community consultation process, the project's goal became "to reduce the risks and improve the socioenvironmental conditions associated with the high prevalence of CVD in Industrial Cape Breton". It was designed to reach people whose daily living conditions presented barriers to health such as poverty, unemployment, social isolation, occupational hazards, lack of education and stress.
The project focused on nutrition and had three integrated components. The first was called Network Building to Facilitate Community Involvement centring on the formation of a network to support the involvement of individuals, groups and organizations in learning about issues related to heart health, identifying their health needs, and finding ways to improve their heart health.
The second component focused on the application of peer education and outreach in nutrition education. The Nutrition Outreach Worker Project (NOW) addressed the special concerns that people of low income had in achieving and maintaining their nutritional health. Through trained outreach workers, members of the community were encouraged to become involved in activities to improve their dietary practices and to reduce the barriers that decrease accessibility to healthy food choices. In its approach, this project addressed the special concerns of low income people and the factors related to the availability and accessibility of healthy food choices. The last component was directed towards environmental change through consumer networking with food retailers to achieve access to food products consistent with the Nutrition Recommendations for Canadians, and Canada's Guidelines for Healthy Eating .
The project did not progress as quickly or in the direction that the partnership had envisioned. Challenges were presented in terms of organizational structure, communication and personality conflicts. In addition, second-year funding was not procured.
Despite these challenges, those interviewed acknowledged some degree of program success. The Steering Committee remained committed to its mandate. This committee continued to meet monthly to plan and develop heart health initiatives; Heart Health educational material were produced and distributed within the community; two health fairs were held; a support group for heart attack survivors was created; a breakfast program in schools was planned and is ongoing in the community's schools; and a community newsletter was produced.
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