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Training & Mentoring

Training and Mentoring the Researchers of Tomorrow

The Centre for Urban Health Initiatives (CUHI) provides graduate and undergraduate students with training and mentoring opportunities that enable them to research urban health relationships. Funding for one post-doctoral fellow is also provided, along with teaching release time for junior faculty. In addition to supporting students in traditional population and public health fields, CUHI engages students in newly emerging disciplines that focus on population health, including geography, sociology and environmental studies.

By providing student research funding, hosting student seminars, offering student scholarships, and supporting undergraduate curriculum development, CUHI is ensuring the researchers of tomorrow have learning opportunities today.

CUHI is committed to the training and mentoring of emerging scholars.  Our commitment extends to researchers at all levels of their university training including undergraduates, graduate and post-doctoral students as well as pre-tenure faculty.

In addition to training and mentoring emerging scholars, CUHI is committed to offering and supporting capacity building opportunities for community members:

  • Community Internship
  • CUHI-Hosted Workshops
  • CUHI-Related Workshops

Junior Faculty Buyouts

Asbridge, Mark (Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University )
“Ethnicity and Tobacco Use”

Berry, Brent (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto )
Research Interests: Race and ethnicity, health, stratification/inequality, urban and community studies, family ties

Johnston, Josee (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto )
Research Interests: Sociology of Food, Sociology of Consumerism/Consumer Culture, Globalization, Political Ecology and Critical Social Theory

Larkin, June (Women and Gender Institute, University of Toronto )
"Performed Ethnography, HIV/AIDS & Aboriginal Youth” 

Teelucksingh, Cheryl (Department of Sociology, Ryerson University )
Research Interests: Racialization and equity; Environmental Health Justice

Travers, Robb (Department of Community Psychology, Wilfred Laurier)
“Youth, Disability and Sexual Health / Sexual Diversity and HIV Teens Resisting Urban Trans/Homophobia”

Yeudall, Fiona ( School of Nutrition , Centre for Studies in Food Security, Ryerson University )
Research Interests: Nutrition and diet, effectiveness of food-based interventions and practices in improving food security

Zanchetta, Margareth ( Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University )
“Health Literacy within a Multicultural Context Toward Self-management of Chronic Diseases”

Community Internship


CUHI Welcomes New Community Intern: Jessica Yee from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network

We are delighted to introduce our new Community Intern, Jessica Yee, the Director and Foundation of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Jessica will be participating in the Youth Sexual Health Research Interest Group with Sarah Flicker to assist with the Taking Action: Building Aboriginal Youth Leadership in HIV Prevention Through Arts-Based Methods project as well as the Toronto Teen Survey. Jessica is a self-described Indigenous feminist reproductive justice freedom fighter. Mohawk from the Akwesasne First Nation, Jessica is the founder and Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, a North America wide organization working on issues of healthy sexuality, reproductive justice, cultural competency, and youth empowerment. At 23 she has spent more than half her life mobilizing individuals, families, and communities alike to reclaim their ancestral rights to govern their own bodies, ranging from being the Youth Coordinator for the Highway of Tears Initiative to serving on the Board of Directors for Maggie's: Sex Workers Organizing. Her health research centres around empowering youth as researchers in the areas of sexual health promotion, decolonization, and reclaiming traditional knowledge. She is a strong believer in the power of the youth voice, and you can see her activisting it up on sites like the CNN syndicated Racialicious, SHAMELESS Magazine: For Girls Who Get It! or her recently released book "Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Colour, and Sexuality" She is the 2009 recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction, a 2009 Role Model for the National Aboriginal Health Organization, and was named one of 20 International Women's Health Heroes by Our Bodies/Our Blog.

   Source :


Yogeeta Sharma from Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre

Our 2008-2009 Community Intern, Yogeeta Sharma, a Community Dietitian from Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre has participated in the Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Research Interest Group with Enza Gucciardi and Margareth Zanchetta to examine diabetes prevention & management in non-status women of African, Caribbean , Latin American and South Asian descent living in the Greater Toronto Area. In her first few months, Yogeeta took training courses in NVIVO, SPSS and community based research methods including the conduct of focus groups. She was inspired by her experience working with non-status women as a Dietition and by her discussions with Margareth Zanchetta to dive deeply into examining issues of non-status women related to diabetes management and to the development of a thought provoking hypothesis. She has also made connections with the Canadian Diabetes Association, Food Secure Canada and the Toronto Central Local Health Integrated Networks regarding her project and hopes the results will prove meaningful to the population she serves. Yogeeta received ethics approval for her project Exploring Equity and Syndemics in Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2) Management of Non-Status Women of African, Caribbean, Latin American and South Asian Descent Living in the Greater Toronto Area and Surrounding Municipalities , and she is currently conducting interviews and facilitating focus groups. We would like congratulate Yogeeta Sharma and thank Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre for their collaboration.


An update from CUHI’s 07/08 community intern LoAn Ta-Young from Parkdale Community Health Centre

I’ve been really busy focusing on the youth health needs assessment in Parkdale. In an effort to increase the number of youth accessing the programs and services at Parkdale Community Health Centre (CHC), the Health Centre is conducting a needs assessment of youth ages 13-24 years living in Parkdale. The Health Centre would like to identify the issues and gaps in services for youth, the best methods to outreach to youth, and the barriers youth may be facing in accessing services at the Health Centre.

   Photo by Paul Morrison

The needs assessment includes input from service providers and from youth living in Parkdale. A total of nine youth service providers from local Parkdale agencies participated in the community health needs assessment. Five participated in a two-hour focus group and four completed a survey questionnaire with questions similar to the focus group. I am in the process of writing up that report.

Parkdale CHC has formed a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to obtain meaningful youth engagement in the needs assessment. The YAC have completed a photovoice project in which they explored what health in their community means to them through the lens of a camera and photos.  The youth were involved in designing a short survey for their peers and they decided on the recruitment strategies for the survey.  They also participated in the analysis of the data they collected. 

The youth health needs assessment is a community-university collaboration between CUHI and Parkdale CHC. Through my community internship, CUHI is helping the Health Centre to build capacity for community-based research. Specifically, CUHI has provided research training, knowledge transfer and resources in focus group and needs assessment methodology.  CUHI has also provided support and resources in the photovoice project with YAC.  I think that this community intern experience validates that community-based research is meaningful and can help decision-makers like Parkdale CHC in the planning and implementation of community programs.

I am very pleased to share with you that Brenda and I will be presenting our experiences at the Community-University Partnerships conference (CUexpo 2008) this coming May.

LoAn Ta-Young
Community Intern

Assessment of the Community Health Needs of Youth Living in South Parkdale

In collaboration with the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives at the University of Toronto, Parkdale Community Health Centre (PCHC) conducted an assessment of the community health needs of youth living in South Parkdale to support needs-based planning of PCHC programs and services for youth. The assessment included a focus group with service providers, a photovoice project and a youth health survey with the Youth Advisory Council.  The results highlight youth service providers’ perceptions of main health issues and concerns for youth in Parkdale, gaps in health services, barriers youth may face in accessing services at PCHC, the best ways to engage youth and suggested changes for PCHC to improve access to services for youth.  The results also highlight youth’s perceptions of factors promoting health, personal stressors, personal safety, barriers to accessing health information and services, and suggested health topics and programs of interest for youth. The report concludes with recommendations for PCHC Youth Team to consider in the needs-based planning of future programs and services for youth living in South Parkdale. 

PDF version of Assessment of the Community Health Needs of Youth Living in South Parkdale


We have been delighted to work with Carolin Taron.  Carolin was hired in June 2004 as CUHI’s community intern to work on the UGROW project of the Food and Health Research Interest Group.  Carolin brings a wealth of experience working with and organizing community gardens in Toronto neighbourhoods.  Carolin started the West End Flower Fairies, a group involved with community gardens and neighbourhood beautification. Carolin is a registered massage therapist, a workshop facilitator in alternative health practices, and is completing a degree in Health Studies at the University of Toronto.

Carolin has worked closely with a diverse team of research associates and centre staff to help develop a community-based research program investigating community gardening and its impact on health in Southeast Toronto.  Carolin has been instrumental in establishing relationships and engaging with garden participants.  She has opened communication between gardens and helped facilitate learning exchange workshops.  In facilitating focus groups, Carolin has worked closely with both garden participants and garden coordinators to assess what their needs and interests are.

Carolin played an integral role in the release of the UGROW "Seeds, Soil & Stories" Project Report. A PDF version of this report can be found under Research Projects - Food RIG.

Health Studies Opportunities

As part of CUHI’s commitment to the Health Studies Program at University College , CUHI has provided faculty release time to Health Studies Program Director, Dr. Paul Hamel, to support his research related to neighbourhood disparities on health.

CUHI facilitates research placements for several of the Health Studies Practicum students with various academic, community and policy partners. Over the 2008-2009 academic year, CUHI supported 4th year Health Studies students in their independent research studies by providing teaching stipends for Jason Ramsey, a post-doctoral fellow with the Centre for Research on Inner City Health, to mentor and supervise students.  CUHI Centre Coordinator Alexis Kane Speer supervised Mallory Switzer on a qualitative project investigating the neighbourhood health priorities of Toronto residents. Work space and access to statistical software were provided to health studies students and CUHI supported four 4th year Health Studies students in their independent research studies by matching them with supervisors.

On April 9th, these students participated in the First Annual Health Studies Research Symposium.  The Health Studies students were grateful for John Clarke from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, who as the Plenary Speaker presented his work on Community Responses to Poverty and Economic Crises

CUHI extends our congratulations to the following Health Studies students for their academic accomplishments:   

  • Lucia Fiestas Navarrete: The Effects of Housing Affordability on Mental Health 
  • Tomas Krakowski: Improving Community Mental Health with Social Capital & Stress Reduction Leisure 
  • Mallory Switzer : Neighbourhood Health Priorities: a comparison study of four low-income Toronto communities 
  • Marjorie McAllister: Housing as a Criminal Diversion Strategy for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

We would like to thank Paul Hamel, Health Studies Program Director, for his guidance and leadership and for organizing an engaging and successful symposium.

Several undergraduates enrolled in the program were sponsored to attend the Determinants of Health – Toronto in a Global Village symposium, held at the University of Toronto last fall. Students who attended the symposium expressed that they “just wanted to get up and do something.” One student articulated that “it clarified for me, what I can do with my health degree… its helping me connect … to hear and see those people at the symposium was great and made it real for me”. Another student commented that without attending this symposium “I would not have known all health can mean and so many things people do.”

CUHI has also facilitated the placement of 4th year student Sarah Young with the Performed Ethnography, HIV/AIDS & Aboriginal Youth seed grant project. During the summer of 2008, CUHI hired Health Studies student, Kristin McIlroy through the Ontario Student Experience Program to work on the Toronto Teen Survey with Planned Parenthood of Toronto. The project team was so impressed with Kristin’s commitment to the project that CUHI was able to support her continued employment through the 2008/2009 academic year as a work-study student. Along with Kristin, two other work-study students have been hired to support the work of our Environmental Health Justice and Chronic Disease Prevention and Management RIGs, while gaining valuable research experience. We welcome and look forward to working with Ciann Wilson and Rachel Zhang.

Health Studies Students’ Cuba Experience

Over reading week, 13 Health Studies students traveled to Cuba where they visited healthcare institutions and spoke to government officials and healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of Cuba ’s universal health care system.

Here is what they wrote on their learnings.  “The Cuban healthcare systems’ success is derived from its placement within a larger context of an entirely socialized governing structure. Such a structure ensures that the social determinants of health are adequately addressed. There is little social and/or economic inequality and everyone has adequate access to food, housing, and education. These social factors can often have a larger influence on health outcomes than the healthcare system and medicine itself. Cuba does not limit its perspective of health solely to healthcare, and instead, emphasizes the social determinants of health, which, in turn, reduces healthcare system costs.  We believe that if Canada wants to lessen the financial strain on the healthcare system, it should focus its attention on addressing the broader structural issues that lead people to require medical attention in the first place.”

This interactive travel opportunity enabled the students to understand Cuban health determinants learned from their textbooks with new complexities, taking into account living conditions and discussing personal anecdotes with Cuban patients. The students’ exploration of the Cuban healthcare system opened up many new avenues of inquiry, challenged former assumptions, and provoked questions and answers that will reveal themselves throughout the rest of their careers as students, activists and professionals. 

Practicum in Health Studies Course – Reflections by Course Instructor, Reena Tandon

The aim of this 4th year course was for students to develop a critical perspective for community based participatory research with an emphasis on marginalization and health disparities.  The course included in-class seminars, student-led class discussions and concurrent placements in nine different health-research projects in research institutes, community agencies and university departments. This integrated course model provided an opportunity for students at advanced levels in their undergraduate degrees, to integrate their theoretical understandings with hands-on experience. An underlying aim of the course was to encourage students to think about the next step in their careers within the health field.

In the three years of teaching this course, this integrated approach of classroom teaching with practicum placements has proven successful. The feedback from the placement partners has been overwhelmingly positive, attested by their acceptance of students year after year.  Some students have been hired by the projects in summer and work study positions. Here are some reflections from this years’ students:

“A new understanding of health research – becoming more than a researcher – to become an action agent that facilitates change from the inside out, from within.”

“Gained knowledge and skills on how to develop programs and evaluate programs or services (both quantitatively and qualitatively) … the knowledge and skills (from practicum and course) will enable me to work effectively in the health care field.”

“Enhanced my skills working in an interdisciplinary group setting ….Looking at issues from different perspectives.”

“…The means we do research must empower rather than take; build capacity within communities and not at their expense.”

I would like to thank Brenda Ross, Alexis Kane Speer and Prof. Dennis Magill for assisting in finding student placements and for providing funding for students to attend the “Determinants of Our Health: Toronto in a Global Village” symposium held in October 2008. The opportunity to participate in this landmark public health event in Toronto was much appreciated by all students.

During the 2006/ 2007 academic year, CUHI worked with a group of four Health Studies students on two projects identified as priorities by the Health Studies Program at University College . We would like to thank Marlene Searle, Marino Iurillo, Renaud Boulanger and Xiao Jin Chen for their hard work in producing two reports: University of Toronto Health Studies Placement Program: Elements for Successful Expansion and Career and Educational Opportunities of University of Toronto Health Studies Graduates. Both reports have been distributed to college administrators. We would also like to thank Sheryl Yip of Health Studies at Queen’s University for her contributions to our CIHR midterm evaluation over the summer of 2007.

CUHI will continue to support the Health Studies program at University College by providing students with hands-on research experiences. The launch of the “Tommy Douglas Fund for Health Studies” is at a speaking even featuring Ralph Nader on September 24, 2009 at Hart House Great Hall.  Support the Health Studies program by buying tickets through

For more information on the Health Studies Program at the University of Toronto , please visit:

Undergraduate Research Experience at CUHI

CUHI has sucessfully been placed with academics or community organizations in order to gain valuable research experience. You can read about the experiences of some of the many outstanding students we have had the pleasure of working with over the past several years.

Disciplines of Students Placed with Seed Grant, RIG and CUHI Central Projects

   Photo by Alexis Kane Speer

Lucia Isabel Fiestas-Navarrete (4th Year Student, Health Studies Specialist, University of Toronto)
My experience at the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives can be best described as an ongoing learning process. I felt the support of Alexis and Brenda at all times, from the initial stages of my independent study, narrowing down my research questions, helping me get through my darkest hours with statistics, listening to every one of my insecurities and pointing me in the right direction all the way to the final presentation. CUHI empowered me as a student and as young researcher it provided me with a unique learning opportunity. The lessons learned at the centre are invaluable. This experience has opened my mind to the extent of the possibilities that are wide open for me, and students like myself, who want to make a change in the world they live in but didn’t know how, until now. This really is only the beginning; my experience at CUHI was a peek into a long future of contributions in health studies. Thank you.

Kristin McIlroy (4th Year Student, Health Studies and Human Biology, University of Toronto)
I spent the summer working at Planned Parenthood Toronto as a part of the Ontario Student Experience Program, and I am now continuing for the year as a work-study student; both supported by CUHI. I have been working with the Toronto Teen Survey (TTS), a community-based research project investigating the barriers for diverse youth to accessing sexual health services in Toronto. I have had the opportunity to gain experience in qualitative and quantitative analysis of data as well as participate in focus group facilitation training. I have also been compiling literature and summaries of our collected data into fact sheets that will be disseminated to service providers working with youth.

Working with TTS, I have had the opportunity to work with a diverse team of researchers from a variety of backgrounds, and have learned a lot about research process by participating in project team meetings. I have also been able to meet the staff at Planned Parenthood and see all of the great work going on in the organization. This whole experience has helped to shape my future educational goal of pursuing a master’s degree in epidemiology. I am looking forward to continuing with the project as we move forward to the next phases of focus groups with youth and dissemination of results.

Marlene Searle (Recent Graduate, Health Studies, University of Toronto)
“As a U of T student majoring in Health Studies, I was first attracted to CUHI because of its focus on urban health and its relationship to food, neighbourhoods, and physical environments.  The Centre’s role in supporting research projects and providing fellowships, workshops, seminars and newsletters all centred on health from a social perspective was extremely relevant to my area of study.

My work at CUHI varied, ranging from updating the listserv, organizing files and contributing to newsletters to researching contact information, attending meetings and performing interviews.  I also represented CUHI and the Health Studies Program in a year long project in which I investigated possible career and educational options for Health Studies students.

My experiences at CUHI provided me with insight into current topics of urban health research and into the detailed and extensive process of applying for funding, as well as greater knowledge of effective methods of information dissemination.  In addition, the various tasks and responsibilities enhanced my organizational and communication skills.

I would thus recommend students, especially those in the Health Studies Program, to become involved with the activities at CUHI.  The research projects that the Centre funds are of great relevance to the topics studied in Health Studies courses.  Students also become knowledgeable of the research process through exposure to the funding application procedure.

Throughout the course of my time at CUHI, Alexis and Brenda, who responded to all of my questions and concerns, consistently provided me with supportive guidance.  It was a pleasure to work at CUHI!”

Sheryl Yip’s (3rd Year, Health Studies, Queen’s University)
“In the summer of 2007, I volunteered at the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives and my experience there had a major impact on me. It showed me how academic knowledge and concepts that I had been learning in school were being applied in real life. By attending the Toronto Neighbourhood Research Network meeting and listening to researchers discuss their current research studies around the Greater Toronto Area, they showed me how various concepts I was learning in class were being applied in the study of the Toronto population.

I learned that there is a vast variety of health related organizations where I can work after I complete school. There are many job titles that interest me and give me an idea of what I can do with my degree.

Overall, volunteering at CUHI has strengthened my passion for Health Studies. CUHI’s purpose and objectives are something I truly value and would love to contribute to in the future. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to volunteer at CUHI because it was an influential and meaningful learning experience. I hope to work with the centre again in the future.”

Pelin Kaya (4th Year Student, Human Biology and Bioethics, University of Toronto)
I was hired as a work-study student for the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives (CUHI) for the 2007/2008 school year. I was first attracted to the Centre due to my interest in food security as social determinant of health. However, during my time here, my interests have expanded into urban health in neighbourhoods and physical environments. Fortunately, my time at CUHI has allowed me to gain insight into current research projects on the above topics.

The administrative and research skills I have learned at CUHI will aid me as I pursue post-graduate studies and when I enter the workforce. Some of my tasks at CUHI included, updating the Members List, helping edit and organize the fall newsletter, researching potential organizations related to relevant seminars, and promoting the monthly seminary series.

My experience at CUHI has not only been educational but also very enjoyable. Brenda and Alexis have been nothing but helpful and supportive. They made going to work something to look forward to. They were very flexible about my work schedule as I tried to balance both work and a heavy course load. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have work for CUHI, as I have gained so much from the experience.

Nuangi Wickramasuriya (4th Year Student, Human Biology, Physiology & Psychology)
My experience while working at CUHI has been very enjoyable and rewarding, in addition to having facilitated much gain of knowledge and skills that will be most valuable to me as I pursue graduate studies in public health. Exposure to the centre’s involvement with research development, collaboration, and knowledge exchange between individuals and organizations committed to urban health has demonstrated to me the importance of research in its ability to foster increased awareness of issues pertinent to health as well as to take steps toward effecting change in policy.

In assisting with efforts to produce the centre newsletter and the evaluation report, I was able to appreciate the great breadth of research projects that CUHI is involved with as well as the truly multidisciplinary approach taken in addressing urban health issues as exemplified by the numerous disciplines of research associates. Other administrative duties that I was responsible for include gathering information for the CUHI website, investigating research funding opportunities and updating the listserv. I was also given the opportunity to attend the Ontario Public Health Association Conference, the Health and Human Rights Conference and CUHI’s Spotlight on Urban Health Seminar Series, all showcasing individuals and their work in exploring emerging issues in public health.

Overall, my time with CUHI has been everything I had hoped for and more. Alexis, Brenda, LoAn and Pelin have been very supportive and wonderful to work alongside. I look forward to continuing my work at CUHI and I will most definitely take this experience forward in my educational career and beyond.

CUHI Recognizes the Contributions of Undergraduate Students

Graduating student Kristin McIlroy (Heath Studies/ Biology, University of Toronto ) was recognized for her continued voluntary work with the knowledge dissemination strategy of the Toronto Teen Survey, a collaborative project between Planned Parenthood Toronto and a number of Youth Sexual Health RIG Research Associates. Kristin has been working with CUHI in various capacities for the last two years and she will be sorely missed as she moves on.

Graduating student Mallory Switzer (Health Studies, University of Toronto ) was recognized for her continued voluntary work with the Intensive Research on Neighbourhoods and Health – Rapid Assessment Final Report. Mallory completed her Health Studies Practicum Course at CUHI and is currently working part-time on the Pathways to Education project at the Regent Park Community Health Centre.

First year student Helen Huang (University of Toronto) was recognized for her innovative artistic contributions to CUHI’s knowledge exchange activities, such as the recent student symposium on Youth Sexual Health and forum on Pollution and Poverty. Helen will continue to support the work of the Youth Sexual Health RIG by assisting on the publication Empower: Youth Arts and Activism, An HIV/AIDS Arts Activism Manual for Youth… by Youth.

Work-Study Opportunities

CUHI supported the University of Toronto work-study program. This program provided opportunities of part-time employment for students during the academic year. These positions offered practical experience related urban health research. We hired students on an annual basis, to support the activities of our centre and our Research Interest Groups.

Three students were hired for the 2008-2009 academic year. Kristin McIlroy (4th year Health Studies & Human Biology student) supported the work of the Toronto Teen Survey, embedded within the Youth Sexual Health RIG. Ciann Wilson (4th year Human Biology, Philosophy and Sociology student) assisted the Toward a Community-based Participatory Research Partnership for Environmental Health Justice in Parkdale, Toronto: A Capacity Assessment and Pilot Study as a part of the  Environmental Health Justice RIG and Clinical Engineering graduate student Rachel Zhang supported the work of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Management RIG, as well as CUHI's knowledge exchange activities.

Photo: Work Study Students Nuangi and Pelin
   Photo by Alexis Kane Speer

Student Conference Grants

In order to facilitate the participation and engagement of undergraduate and graduate students in relevant population and public health forums, CUHI provided student conference scholarships.

CUHI sponsored the student-organized Health and Human Rights Conference from 2007-2010 as well as the Research with Pride Conference at the University of Toronto. As a co-sponsor, we have also offered student scholarships to attend these events.

Photo: Work Study Students Nuangi and Pelin   Photo by Alexis Kane Speer

Most recently, CUHI provided a student scholarship to recent Queen’s University Health Studies graduate, Alyssa Cloth, to attend the annual Canadian Public Health Association Conference in Manitoba, Winnipeg on “Public Health in Canada: Strengthening Connections”.

In the fall of 2008, twelve Health Studies undergraduate students were sponsored to attend the Determinants of Health – Toronto in a Global Village symposium, held at the University of Toronto this October. Health Studies students who attended the symposium expressed that they “just wanted to get up and do something.” One student articulated that “it clarified for me, what I can do with my health degree… its helping me connect … to hear and see those people at the symposium was great and made it real for me”. Another student commented that without attending this symposium “I would not have known all health can mean and so many things people do.” During the summer and fall of 2008, CUHI sponsored graduate students to present at the Community-University Expo in Victoria, BC and the International Conference on Urban Health in Vancouver, BC.

In the past academic year CUHI provided student scholarships to attend an International Sociological Association conference held at the University of Toronto and the 9th National Metropolis Conference: Exploring Canada’s Diversity, Today and Tomorrow. CUHI also provided eleven scholarships to attend the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) conference, of which CUHI was a co-sponsor.  Kate Reeve (McMaster University) and Kate Rossiter (University of Toronto) were presented with a Viewer’s Choice Poster Award for their poster presentation of The Last Straw, an innovative social determinants of health board game. CUHI also recruited many students who volunteered their time to gain gratis registration to the conference. We are proud to announce that CCPH had by far its largest number of student volunteers for a conference yet. Students expressed what an inspiring experience attending the conference was. We would like to thank all those who participated, without which an event of its scale would not be possible.

Also in 2007-2008, Subha Ramanathan (Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto) was awarded a scholarship to attend and was invited to act as a peer leader for the youth mobilization projects at the Walk21 conference “Putting Pedestrians First” held in early October. Seven scholarships were awarded to students to attend the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) conference: “Public Health: Who’s at Risk? What’s at Stake?“. Kate and Kate were supported a second time to present The Last Straw, and former research assistants, Hilary Gibson-Wood and Charles Chiu participated in a presentation to be given on the Multicultural Yard, Health and Environment Project (MYHEP), a spin-off project of a 2004 CUHI seed grant. We have also supported our summer students and work-study student annually in attending the Ontario Public Health Association conferences.

Support for Student Projects

The Last Straw boardgameThe Last Straw! A Board Game on the Social Determinants of Health

French copies now available for purchase!!

In the spring of 2007, CUHI supported Kate Reeve (McMaster University Medical Student) and Kate Rossiter (University of Toronto Public Health Sciences Ph.D. student) for conference presentations on The Last Straw, an innovative social determinants of health board game.

Kate and Kate were presented with a CCPH Viewer’s Choice Poster Award for their Community Campus Partnerships for Health presentation and the game was also well received at the Ontario Public Health Association Conference.  They have since been working hard to prepare and test facilitator training materials and put the wheels in motion for the game to be produced and distributed.  The game has proven to be a valuable participatory education tool on the social determinants of health. The Last Straw! takes players through the life cycle where they will encounter "macro" issues such as political climate, economic structure and environmental change, as well as "micro" issues, such as individual finances, education, and family dynamics.

In Spring 2008 medical student Kate Reeve (McMaster) and doctoral student Kate Rossiter (University of Toronto) released English copies of their innovative teaching tool called "The Last Straw: A Board Game on the Social Determinants of Health." Last month Kate and Kate released the next iteration of the game: a French translation. Like English copies of the game, the French copies can be purchased through the company's website: Kate and Kate are delighted that the game is available to players across Canada, and are contemplating further translations in order to make the game accessible on a global scale. The Last Straw is a teaching tool on the social determinants of health. Originally developed by Kate Rossiter and Kate Reeve for a health promotion class in 2004 at the University of Toronto, the game is now produced and distributed by Progressive Moves Consulting Inc. Partners include the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, the Wellesley Institute, Fernwood Books, the Centre for Health Promotion. The Centre for Urban Health Initiatives continues to play an integral role in promoting this innovative education tool.

Supporting Student Radio: Sex City Radio – CIUT 89.5 FM

CUHI has sponsor ed student-run and youth focused sexual program Sex City Radio for two consecutive years. This show facilitates aural (s)explorations every Saturday from 5 to 6 pm EST on CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto or online at

This show is dedicated to ongoing (s)excavation of sexuality in relation to sexual health, art, politics, activism and culture. Serving as a forum for unbiased and in(cite)ful discussions, readings, music and other aural surprises to provoke your intellect, this student project pushes forward the mandate of CUHI's Youth Sexual Health Research Interest Group.

To learn more about Sex City Radio, please visit:

CUHI Related Workshops

Community Based Research (CBR) Workshops (ongoing)
hosted by the Wellesley Institute and Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education

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