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Cancer prevention program under way in Fort Macleod

Fort Macleod is part of a provincial cancer prevention initiative.
Alberta Prevents Cancer is an Alberta Health Services program to help communities build on and strengthen what they are already doing to prevent cancer.
Magan Braun, one of eight community health promotion facilitators on the provincial team for Alberta Prevents Cancer, appeared as a delegation at the Oct. 26 council meeting.
“We work in the area of comprehensive community cancer prevention with a focus on supportive environments,” Braun said. “Our team works to prevent cancer through research and innovative strategies.”
At present Braun’s team is working on an applied research project geared to create physical and social supportive preventative environments for prevention, focused on risk factors for cancer that can be modified.
“This is a project that we have piloted in 16 (rural) communities across Alberta,” Braun told council.
Braun presented council with research that indicates by 2030 it is estimated 27,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Alberta — a 65 per cent increase since 2010.
Alberta Health Services predicts one in every two men and one in every three women in Alberta will develop cancer in their lifetimes.
The Alberta Prevents Cancer team works with communities to provide a link between research, best practices and implementation of cancer prevention strategies.
Part of the project is to assess how cancer is already being prevented at a community level.
The next step is to build on and strengthen what is already being done to prevent cancer in a community.
The program is tied to research that shows 50 per cent of cancer is caused by factors that are understood and can be influenced.
Ways that communities can reduce cancer risk are:
• Increase awareness and access to cancer screening.
• Reduce ultraviolet radiation exposure.
• Limit alcohol consumption.
• Implement tobacco reduction strategies.
• Increase the opportunity for physical activity.
• Increase the availability of healthy food.
“You may wonder what role municipal governments have in the creation of health,” Braun said.
Braun wanted Fort Macleod to become part of a community team to move the project forward.
“I am currently engaging community members and seeking individuals interested in community cancer prevention to become part of the team to move the project forward,” Braun said.
A community conversation was held Tuesday, Nov. 3 at the library to provide information about the project.
“As leaders in this town, I would ask you to help me spread the word about this,” Braun told council.
The project provides a tool called “The Road to Success — A Comprehensive Cancer Prevention Guide and Tool Kit.”
A team with representation from a variety of sectors in Fort Macleod, including the public, schools, health and business will be formed.
Alberta Health Services provides seed funding of $15,000 to help prepare an action plan for active community prevention.
Braun said the project fits with the town’s municipal development plan, which lists development of pathways and sidewalks for walking and cycling.
Braun also noted a connection between the project and the town’s objective of promoting programs that enhance volunteerism and participation in community life.
The project also ties with Fort Macleod’s vision of creating a welcoming community, as well as its values of collaboration, teamwork and creative thinking.
Braun said Fort Macleod has already done some cancer prevention through the Thrive On Wellness project, which started community play dates, walking maps, planting apples trees at Centennial park and food demonstrations at the Farmer’s Market.
“Fort Macleod is already doing great things,” Braun said. “Participation in this project will provide another opportunity to expand your great work.”
Council agreed to Braun’s request to allocate Town of Fort Macleod staff time to be involved in the Alberta Prevents Cancer project.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter said.

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