Healthy Growing, Healthy Living in Rexdale

by Matias Golob


On February 8th, 2018, Humber College brought together the non-profit, government and business sectors for dialogue with students and faculty regarding the intersections between food security and healthy child and youth development. Facilitated through design-thinking and captured by a visual graphic recording, the event provided opportunities for networking, learning and sharing of different perspectives, clarity and understanding of key issues and opportunities for action.


For student participants, the event offered an opportunity to network and collaborate with a range of stakeholders in identifying and defining community needs.


“I liked the purposeful mixing of participants in the design thinking workshop – not only did it help stimulate conversation, it shared perspectives and new ideas we may not be familiar with and provided a great opportunity for less formal networking.” (Second year student, Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Promotion Program)


“It was great connecting with people working toward the same goal. It [design-thinking] was a powerful tool to use to recognize all of the individual efforts and how we can collectively work together to improve things.” Ultimately, we are stronger together, so it’s helpful to break down the silos so that we know about the different resources available to help everyone work toward our common goals for Rexdale.” (First year student, Early Childhood Education Program)


For community agencies and stakeholders, the event presented the opportunity to learn more about Humber resources, including a new Food Learning Garden, and the vast contributions and expertise made by Humber faculty and students. Vincent Crisanti, Councillor for the City of Toronto, recognized the importance of academic-community linkages to build capacity and solve local issues.


“In the City of Toronto, we believe in nutrition and in making sure nobody goes unfed. We want to make sure that we have good healthy food available to our communities and our children. Humber College is emerging as a key partner in addressing food security needs and issues of residents in Wards 1& 2.”


The event was made possible by the Centre of Innovation in Health and Wellness, which supports and enables interdisciplinary initiatives and activities in areas where Humber has the potential to lead.  Laurie Rancourt, Senior Vice-President, Academic, Humber College, acknowledged that the interdisciplinary collaboration model is central in Humber’s commitment to helping communities succeed and grow.


“You are part of a Humber movement, which is to be embedded in, and to be working with the communities we live and work in. The Centre of Innovation in Health and Wellness’ mandate is to connect students, faculty & staff with industries and communities with the goal of working collectively to find solutions to complex challenges.”


Following the design-thinking approach, the next step in the journey will be two Ideation workshops, scheduled for March 8, 2018 in the Collaboration Room at Humber College where students, faculty and stakeholders will generate, develop, and communicate solutions to the identified needs and issues.


Project Team
Partners: Rexdale Community Health Centre; Food Innovation Hub; Humber Office of Sustainability; Humber Arboretum & Centre for Urban Ecology; Humber Aboriginal Resources Centre; School of Health Sciences, School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism, School of Community and Social Services
Project Leads: Matias Golob & Susan Petkovsek, Centre of Innovation in Health & Wellness