The Healthy Together program is fully up and running in five sites across Canada. While these sites are busy providing the program to clients, the UBC evaluation team is working closely with evaluators at each site to collect data so we can ask the some important questions. These questions are vital to determine the future of program and include:
Does the Healthy Together program positively impact caregivers and children’s healthy eating and physical activity behaviour?
Does the program help foster strong relationships within families?
Is this program something that other community sites would be able to run in the future?
So, who are this mysterious evaluation team? We`d like to introduce the team from the University of British Columbia who will be working closely with the Bridge to evaluate the Healthy Together program over the next few years.
From left to right: Dr. Mary Jung; Jessica Bourne; Lola Popova; Katie Weatherson
Without a doubt our captain on this team is Dr. Mary Jung. Mary is an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of British Columbia, and director of the Health and Exercise Psychology Laboratory. Mary’s research focuses on the application of theory in the promotion and adherence to various health behaviours. Specifically, she is interested in the importance of self-regulation required to adhere to physical activity and healthy eating behaviour. An additional research interest of Mary’s is the evaluation of health promotion initiatives, such as Healthy Together, designed to increase physical activity and healthy eating behaviours. When Mary is not working she can be found playing with her 4-year-old daughter or hitting up an exercise class.
Our second key team member is Dr. Susan Wells. Susan is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia with a joint appointment in Social Work and Psychology. Susan is the senior consultant on this evaluation project and provides guidance to the evaluation team when required; she could be considered our coach.
We also have some fabulous students/volunteers from the University of British Columbia on our team. First, we have Katie Weatherson, a 4th year Human Kinetics student. Katie became a member of the Healthy Together evaluation team, as she was interested in learning about the process of health program evaluation and developing new research skills. Her role on the team is to transcribe interviews coming in from site directors and the national advisory committee. In addition, she has single handedly mastered some new and complicated software that we require to analyze these interviews. Katie has also been examining the implementation of the program across the current sites based on observation reports coming in from on site evaluators. Outside of school, Katie enjoys being active and cooking meals with friends and family.
Second, we have Megan Mandryk, our volunteer on the evaluation team who brings with her a BSc in Psychology. Megan has been the integral in setting up the Healthy Together evaluation database. Specifically, all questions that we ask individuals to complete have to be entered into a computer in a meaningful way so that individual’s responses can be examined before, during and after the program. Megan has developed the system that allows us to meaningfully enter responses and will, in the future, allow us to examine the effectiveness of the program on positively impacting participants healthy eating and physical activity behaviour. Megan began volunteering with the team as she wanted to keep her feet wet in research while working a full time job, Megan has enjoyed research so much that she has recently applied to undertake her Master’s degree in Neuroethics in Vancouver.
Third, we have Lolita Popova, a 2nd year Business and Management student. Lola came on board with the evaluation team due to her superior organization skills. Now in her 8th month with the team, Lola is solely responsible for all quantitative data entry into the Healthy Together evaluation database.
Finally, there is Jessica Bourne. She is the evaluation coordinator on this project and have worked in the Health and Exercise Psychology Laboratory for 2 years now. Her role is to help keep everyone on task and ensure that the team’s questions are answered and deadlines are met. When she not working in the lab, she can be found biking or walking in the mountains.
As they continue to collect, enter and analyze data from sites across Canada they hope to provide you with glimpses of what results are coming out and what this means for the program.