Small Steps Big Change – 2nd Anniversary

ON NOVEMBER 13th 2019, the Diabetes Prevention Research Group at the University of British Columbia and the YMCA of Okanagan celebrated their second anniversary of the Small Steps for Big Changes program. This community partner event was held on the eve of World Diabetes Day and hosted over 70 diabetes prevention stakeholders from the academic, clinical and community contexts at the Laurel Packing House, downtown Kelowna. Small Steps for Big Changes alumni and program ambassador, Lois Hourston, was the master of ceremonies. Dr. Rob Shave, the Director of the School of Health & Exercise Sciences and the University of British Columbia, kick started the event, followed by shared insights from Dr. Mary Jung, Director of the Diabetes Prevention Research Group & Small Steps for Big Changes. She shared program successes and discussed insights of next steps toward diabetes prevention sustainability within the Okanagan region and beyond. The group then heard from Jason Nijjar, Health and Fitness Coach at the YMCA of Okanagan, who is a Small Steps for Big
Changes trainer. He spoke of his experiences engaging in the training and delivering the program, including the value of motivational interviewing as a tool in helping other make health behaviour changes. He also shared how he has been impacted by the program, in seeing individuals work toward and achieve their goals within the YMCA walls. Finally, Sharon Peterson, Chief Executive Officer and president of the YMCA of Okanagan reflected on how hosting such a program in the
YMCA has been beneficial for them in achieving their organizational goals of reaching individuals who are ready to be fit in the community. This event also allowed for a platform to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between partners to illustrate their commitment to partnership and the program.
The evening finished off with door prize winnings donated by local sponsors, mixing and mingling over canapés and wine, pictures in the photo booth, and engaging in the annual Participant Advisory Committee and Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings. This event was a tribute to the many achievements of clients’ continuous dedication towards their health.

Kathy Rush & Eric Li

November 1, 2019

New Eminence Cluster focuses on rural health equity

IHLCDP Associates Dr. Kathy Rush and Dr. Eric Li are leading a new Eminence Cluster at UBC’s Okanagan campus, entitled Rural Health Equity through Social Enterprise and Technologies Synergies (RHE-SETS).  The team will work with rural communities to find ways to use technology and local businesses to enable children/youth, older adults with chronic illnesses and Indigenous people have better opportunities to promote their health and access healthcare. This research team will leverage their relationship with the Regional Alliance for Rural Health and other groups committed to rural health to support this work.


March 6th, 2019

Small Steps for Big Changes Showcase

On Monday March 4th, IHCLDP AssociateDr. Mary Jung, Dr. Corliss Bean, and the Diabetes Prevention Research Group at the University of British Columbia hosted a knowledge sharing event that showcased the Small Steps for Big Changes program, a lifestyle counselling program that can help people make lasting dietary and exercise changes in order to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This program is run in partnership with the YMCA of Okanagan and is hosted in the community at the downtown YMCA. The event involved 54 key stakeholders in diabetes prevention, including UBC students, faculty and staff, YMCA board of directors, managers, and frontline staff, and members of Interior Health Authority and the City of Kelowna, physicians, and program alumni and shared program successes and impacts over the past 18 months, as well as next steps for the program. Specifically, the partners are working to translate the program into the YMCA where frontline staff will be trained to deliver the program. This will aid in program contextualization in the community and sustainability.
To find out more about the Small Steps for Big Changes, please visit:


Click here for a summary of the event and information about next steps for the Small Steps for Big Changes program.


February 16, 2019

Psychological impact of natural disaster

A new study is underway to explore the psychological impact of floods, wildfires and other natural disasters that result from climate change.  Leading this study are UBC Okanagan researchers Dr. Carolyn Szostak, Associate Professor in Psychology, and Dr. Nelly Oelke, Associate Professor in Nursing and IHLCDP Associate.  The researchers are interested in talking with people living in the Okanagan-Similkameen area — an area hit hard by wildfires and floods last year to learn more about the long-term impacts. Working with the research team are Brandy Lynch and Ali Caldwell, UBCO undergraduate students in psychology who are completing their honours thesis on the topic.  Residents and service/support providers whose work-related responsibilities were impacted by the wildfires and/or floods in the region are invited to contact the study team for more information by email: or or by telephone 250-807-8736.

Carole Robinson
February 12, 2019

Caregiver Decision Guide

Dr. Carole Robinson, Professor Emeritus and IHLCDP Associate (retired), in the School of Nursing, and her team have launched a new interactive decision guide to support family caregivers for someone with a serious life-limiting illness. Developed with the assistance of family caregivers, users are guided through four steps that include thinking about caregiving now, how the needs for caregiving might change, exploring supports and resources available to support caregiving, and considering options for caregiving. Each step of the Guide generates questions that help inform a personal decision about what is best for caregiving now or if things change. The aim of the guide is to prepare family caregivers for conversations with trusted health providers (family doctor, nurse, social worker, or volunteer) so that they are supported in the critically important work they do and, at the same time, maintain wellbeing.

The Caregiver Decision Guide can be accessed here:

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Nelly Oelke and Art Post
December 2018

Transitioning Youth with Disabilities and Employment – TYDE 

The TYDE Project is bringing together community partners, researchers and self-advocates from across BC to work together to improve the employment outcomes of transitioning youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Research shows employment to be a critical social determinant of health – affecting both physical and mental health. In Canada working age individuals with ID and/or ASD represent the most unemployed and underemployed citizens in Canada. You can learn about the work that the TYDE team have underway to foster the inclusion and citizenship of youth with disabilities transitioning from high school to adult life in their first newsletter.

TYDE – December 2018 Newsletter

Sana Shahram
June 26, 2018

Research-to-Practice in real time

Dr. Sana Shahram, IHLCDP Associate and MSFHR Post-doctoral Research Fellow, shares her experiences as Embedded Health Equity Scholar at Interior Health (IH) in her recent blog. Situated in IH’s Population Health and Research portfolios, Dr. Shahram is carving out a new role as a researcher to support the implementation of research findings into system-level changes to promote health equity. What is particularly unique about her work as an Embedded Scholar is that she has the opportunity to apply her research expertise from within the systems she is investigating – closing the gap between research and practice in health systems research.

Read her blog here

Nelly Oelke and Art Post
June 21, 2018

Launching a Mobile Men’s Shed to enhance rural men’s wellbeing 

In a one year study, IHLCDP Associate Dr. Nelly Oelke, and her team are teaming up with the Okanagan Men’s Shed Association to deliver and evaluate a mobile Men’s Shed to rural communities in the Southern Okanagan Similkameen.

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PTSD and paramedics
June 10, 2018

Helping paramedics endure trauma

It is estimated that 1 in 4 paramedics are at risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to their exposure to traumatic calls – a rate that is higher than among firefighters or police. Debriefing reactions to traumatic events with peers holds potential for mitigating the negative effects of these experiences. However, few studies have been conducted with paramedics. In a qualitative study, IHLCDP Associate Cheryl Drewitz-Chesney explored peer communication and support among paramedics following traumatic calls. Factors influencing paramedic communication and their ability to process experiences in responding to traumatic emergency calls included norms related to sharing emotions, acknowledgement of links between PTSD and risk of suicide, and provision of peer support programs by employers. This research was completed as part of a Masters of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh.

March 2018

Developing Indigenous Pathways for Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Management

IHLCDP Associates Dr. Donna Kurtz, Ms. Leslie Bryant, and Dr. Charlotte Jones will work with six BC Interior Friendship and Métis Centres to blend traditional and western knowledge to optimized health and health equity in holistic, patient-centred diabetes and obesity care.

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December 2017

Finding keys to reducing obesity

IHLCDP Associate, Dr. Sanjoy Ghosh is a biologist and pharmacist leading research at UBC Okanagan on polyunsaturated fats and their role, along with physical inactivity, in increasing rates of obesity and diabetes.

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November 2017

Designing a smoking cessation program for Indigenous dads

IHLCDP Director, Dr. Joan Bottorff and Ms. Danielle Wilson are leading a team to develop a smoking cessation program for Indigenous fathers and grandfathers who want to quit smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

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November 2017

The ABCs of Assessing Physical Literacy in Older Adults

Dr. Gareth Jones, IHLCDP Associate, wants to foster successful aging by promoting physical literacy in older adults.  This project will focus on developing an evidence-based assessment battery to measure and monitor physical literacy in older adults across Canada.

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July 2017

The Virtual Atrial Fibrillation Clinic: Improving Specialty Care Delivery in Rural Communities

IHLCDP Associate Dr. Kathy Rush is addressing the lack specialty (cardiac) care in rural communities shown to reduce emergency department use and improve older adults’ ability to manage Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

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April 2017

Using exercise to fight frailty

Dr. Gareth Jones, Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Science, is leading research on the best ways to reverse frailty, the physiological decline many people experience as they get older.

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April 2017

Supporting mental health in rural communities

Dr. Nelly Oelke, IHLCDP Associate and Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, is leading a program of community-based research focused on improving services and supports for adults 50 and over with mental health concerns in the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

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