November 4th: The True Size of Africa

4 11 2014

A friend of mine is working on a WatSan (water and Sanitation) project in Malawi. Her blog has some insightful pieces (like this one on the real size of Africa) which are reader friendly and are good for getting the brain thinking! Be sure to check it out. (Safe travels Megan!)

According 2 Megan

I have come to realize something this past week, something  I am a bit embarrassed to say I hadn’t known or put any thought to in the past. The continents and their size. And how this in turn affects my own perspective of the world.

When asked what the world looks like, how many of you thought of this? I sure do! See map below:

mercator

But what if this isn’t what the world actually looks like?

Have you ever thought of the world like this before?

upside down

The first time I saw the ‘upside down’ map, I was in New Zealand and thought it was just a gimmick sold in souvenir shops. Now as I am writing this blog post about the world and our perspectives, I don’t know about you, but I find it to be quite jarring. Because the more I think about it, the more I realize my initial worldview (picture 1) was…

View original post 420 more words





I now have 3 extra letters after my name!

22 10 2014

Since June 2014, I can officially sign as: Sarah Topps, MPH

This has been a strange year for me, with a lot of ups and downs. There have been a number of major life changes which have somewhat interrupted the frequency of my online writing. I hope to change this in the coming months, despite still being busy! I have been really fortunate to be working on a number of interesting projects and teams, so let me give you the latest for each one.

1) Working at the University of Calgary on a project called Healthy Child Uganda.

Excitingly, our new website just went up! HCU is an amazing team, and I love my work with them. Check it out here: http://www.healthychilduganda.org/ 

15209115628_0897968e9d_k

2) Surprise work trips to South America!

In September, I was also honoured to be offered the opportunity to travel with Dr. Marc Poulin (University of Calgary) to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) for their Safety Week Conference, focusing on the health impacts of working at high altitude. I would like to share the Impact Report that I wrote for the visit with you – particularly since this one has attracted quite a few compliments from my superiors, and as a Global Health alumnus, I found it so challenging to find good examples of this kind of documentation that we need to learn when I was a student. I hope it helps someone learn:
Impact Report – ALMA Safety Week Conference Sept 23 – 25 – FINAL © Sarah Topps 2014

chile sunset Sept 2014

Having dinner with world-class physicists every night is pretty cool. The sunsets were pretty spectacular too…This was taken literally from outside of my hotel room at ALMA. – Sarah Topps 2014

3) Speaking at Global Health Conferences and Events

We have also been making good progress with the new Student Executive arm of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research. I am excited to announce that I will be speaking about Mentorship at the 21st Canadian Conference on Global Health, along with several of my esteemed colleagues from the CCGHR, the CCGHR Student Executive and the CSIH Mentornet program.

You can view the program here:
http://www.ccgh-csih.ca/assets/Programclean_oct10.pdf

CCGH 2014 Partnerships for GH


Workshop #1 – Governor General 1 (< this is where to go if you are hoping to join us!)
Building a toolkit for success in global health: The many faces of mentorship
Sarah Topps, MPH (Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research)
At the end of the session, participants will:

  • Develop a 5-year roadmap for the next steps to take in their careers.
  • Identify pathways to finding a mentor and why this is important.
  • Strengthen their peer networks by connecting with others in global health.

I will also be co-presenting with those teams on the same topic at the now sold out Students and Young Professionals Global Health Summit on November 1st in Ottawa. Hope to see some of you there!

SYP

4) Promoting water workshops and networking events for students and young professionals.

My other appointment with the Canadian Water Network’s Students and Young Professionals Committee. My team has been doing amazing work pulling together several cool workshops across the country, which YOU can attend for free!
Check ’em out here: http://www.cwn-rce.ca/young-professionals/workshops/upcoming/

Moncton-banner_SYP-workshop

Calgary-Networking-banner_SYP-workshop_final-for-homepage

Great-Lakes-banner_SYP-workshop2

We will also be announcing more information about our upcoming bi-annual water conference in March 2015. Stay tuned!
CWR2015-Banner

5) Expanding my horizons and donating to a good cause.

Newly interested in another project at the University of Calgary – Project SHINE – which is working with Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania to empower youth to educate themselves and others about sanitation and hygiene. Most recently I have been promoting their drive to collect used digital cameras or used smart phones to document the World’s First Sanitation Science Fair. I donated one of my old digital cameras, and I am very excited to be receiving a Foldscope (a working origami microscope!) in return for my donation.
 If anyone is interested in donating, Sheri is still looking for donations. See the poster below for details.

SHINE poster for donations

Sarah Topps, MPH © October 2014





Using Everyday Objects for Healthy Portion Sizes

23 04 2014

Hello readers!

April has been a whirlwind of activity as I finish up my Master of Public Health degree! Earlier this month, I was invited to give a short ten-minute presentation on the subject of Nutritional Wellness.

hand guide for food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using my adult learning training, I chose to use the BOPPPS model to construct my 10-minute presentation. I have decided to upload my lesson plan for anyone to look at and use for educational purposes:

 Healthy Portion Sizes Lesson Plan – Sarah Topps 2014 

I have also uploaded the powerpoint presentation that I created to deliver this lesson:

Using Everyday Objects for Healthy Portion Sizes – Lesson 

 Short post today, but I hope it is useful for those of you who are:

  • aspiring public health professionals
  • current public health professionals looking for some new material
  • anyone looking for a BOPPPS lesson plan in its final form
  • health educators or health promotion managers

IMPORTANT: Please give credit where credit is due –
Do not pass this off as your own work!

Feel free to use it under the Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ca/
(Full Creative Commons License description here)

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post any questions below!

– Sarah Topps 2014





New Role: Canadian Water Network SYPC Representative

1 04 2014

I have a new role! I was very excited to find out in February that I would be joining the:

2014-2015 Students and Young Professionals Committee (SYPC) of the Canadian Water Network. 

I am honoured to be selected as one of 21 talented graduate students and young professionals who make up this committee for an 18-month term from March 2014. Having recently returned from our 1st National meeting in Toronto, I am looking forward to all of the opportunities that I can both provide to other young Canadians, and participate in through this committee, such as this workshop:

Cape-Breton-Banner-2014_webpage

 

My role is to be a Regional Representative for the Pacific Region of Canada, and to collaborate with the other reps in BC to organize and host some amazing workshops, social meet and greets, networking events, and other skill-building activities.

New-Virtual-Events-Banner-Social-Media-Opportunities-for-Water-Leaders

 

If you are living in British Columbia, and interested in water issues – whether from an industry, academic or social point of view, I invite you to join us for any events that we put on. Please contact me if you would like more information!

– Sarah Topps 2014

{Apologies for the long gap between posts. I have been working hard to finish my Masters’ degree, and since my defense is tomorrow, I expect to have more time to start writing regularly on here again.}

 





A Cheatsheet for the Global Health Funding Players

24 05 2013

This short document was sent to me via the Center for Global Development listserve yesterday. It is basically a 4-page summary of the major players in the Global Health funding arena including key characteristics and their interconnectedness. It is rare to find a summary that is both concise AND useful.
CGD-Global-Health-Family-Cheat-Sheet-Final

– Sarah Topps 2013





Sarah’s tips for orienting yourself in a foreign city

20 05 2013

Arriving in a foreign city can be disorienting and confusing. Especially if you are tired from traveling, or feeling a bit frustrated, it helps a lot to feel like you know where you are going. At home, I use Google Maps a lot for directions, but often when traveling, I don’t have access to the Internet. Here are some tried and true ways that I use to find my way when I go somewhere new.

morning trafficTraffic will be heavier going towards downtown the morning, and away from downtown at night.

Note major landmarks and how far away they are and at what angle (think like a clock face – 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock etc).

Find the highest point in the area (building, mountain, big flag etc) and figure out which direction that is in.

Downtown will almost always be downhill, and in the direction of any major body of water.

Use the sun/stars. In the northern hemisphere, the sun will be in the southern half of the sky, moving from east to west. In the southern hemisphere, it will be in the northern half of the sky, also moving from east to west. If you know it is morning, then the sun will be in the east. At night, look for the big dipper and the North star, or the Southern Cross (as seen below, or on the Australian and New Zealand flags).

Find-south-at-night

Photo Credit: http://www.aa.co.nz/membership/aa-directions/features/how-to-do-almost-everything/

Ask for directions repeatedly. The first person may not know, or may tell you the wrong way, or you could misunderstand them. Ask multiple times along your route, even when you think you are going the right way. It will save you backtracking later if you are wrong. (Hot tip: Most 4-5 star hotels will have English speaking staff if you need to ask for directions.)

Learn the names of major transportation hubs and gathering places (squares, stadiums, shipping centers etc) in the local language before you arrive, so that you can recognize them on signs, maps, and bus/train stops.

Have someone draw you a map. Drawings tend to translate things well when there are language barriers, and you can use common symbols to indicate things like banks, airports, churches, water, famous buildings or toilets. These hand drawn maps are often some of my favorite souvenirs of a trip.

hand_drawn_map_356

Photo Credit: The Hand Drawn Map Association website

[If you’re interested, you can also hop over to another blog I write for, Communication4Health where I talk about How to Use Map-Making to Spark Discussions.]

Finally, to quote the great J.R.R.Tolkien:
Not all those who wander are lost.

I hope these tips help you out next time you are out ‘wandering’. Safe travels!

Sarah Topps 2013





7 habits of highly… Actually just things my parents taught me.

7 05 2013

My parents have given me such wonderful habits.As I travel, I see the huge impact they have had in how I approach the world.

My mother is the reason that I wear sunscreen and sunglasses, always carry multiple ways to pay, put my seatbelt on as soon as I get in a vehicle, try to use the local language, take more poignant photographs, appreciate the little things, avoid fried rice and ice cream, love openly but guard my heart, praise people when they deserve it, wash my hands religiously, join the locals, write everything down, go for walks, get up early to watch the sunrise and stay up late to see the stars. My mother is the reason I dream big, appreciate the journey and trust my decisions.

My father is the reason that I keep trying when I fail, watch and see how the locals do things, smile at people even when I am grumpy, try new local dishes (even when they look or smell disgusting!), stretch often, do things even when they scare me, suck it up when it’s raining or I have to climb a bajillion stairs, don’t take shit from people, laugh at myself, stand up for others who cannot stand up for themselves, don’t tolerate the mistreatment of animals, introduce myself to strangers, listen patiently, get my hands dirty, have the confidence to try new things, offer my help freely, hold doors for people, open doors for myself and walk away from situations that I don’t like.





The Big Secret of Effective Policy-Making

4 04 2013

Scott Morris, from the Center for Global Development, has decided to let us in on a little secret…

Here it is: you need to keep it simple for them.

No matter the country or political system, the ability to move policy forward on a national stage depends critically on the policymaker’s ability to forge a consensus among an array of actors (other agency heads, members of parliament, civil society, the media).

And while you can block virtually anything in the policy arena with a blizzard of detail, forging consensus requires just the opposite. Driving policy consensus often depends critically on boiling the issue down to its essence and saying it again and again and again.”

This is the number one lesson that I have taken away from any course or discussion on policy and influencing policy at my (now) two year Master of Public Health degree at Simon Fraser University. I find it very fitting that Scott Morris has so eloquently summed up my sentiment on affecting policy change just as I round out my final weeks of classes at a masters’ level. I will write more on this after the end of term!

– Sarah Topps 2013





Allison Lee on How Climate Change is Destroying the Earth

6 03 2013

Speaking of infographics… 

Recently I was flattered to receive an email from Allison Lee asking if I would be interested in reviewing and posting something on my blog: an infographic on climate change that she helped to create along with a team of designers and researchers.

I feel that international development, climate change and global health are intrinsically linked subjects, and while I have not directly addressed climate change on my blog, I feel the need to publicly acknowledge that I believe it is real, and humans have played a substantial role in causing it. I have been meaning to write a post about my time in Iceland in December and how shocked I was at how warm it was. I distinctly remember standing comfortably outside in jeans and a sweater while a local told me stories about riding a snowmobile through meters of snow to visit his neighbours in the capital city on Christmas morning only 20 years ago. I remember looking down… there was no snow on the ground.

Embarrassingly, in 2011 Canada became the ONLY country EVER to actually drop out of the Kyoto Protocol (a global agreement among nations to reduce their 1990 emission levels by 18% by 2020).

On LearnStuff.com where Allison and her team have posted their infographic, they give some helpful suggestions that people can do every day to reduce climate change:

  • Driving a car with good gas mileage, or investing in a hybrid or electric car
  • (Or switching to car pooling, bicycles or public transit! – my addition)
  • Switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED
  • Insulating your home and stocking it with energy efficient appliances
  • Recycling
  • Using green power available in your area

This week I finally had enough time to review their infographic and check their sources, so without further delay, I am sharing it with all of you. [My apologies to Allison and her team for not posting it sooner!]

Climate-Change

 

What did you think of the above infographic? Was there anything that you liked? Disagreed with? Put it in the comments below.

– Sarah Topps 2013





Infographics and Vaccines: Information Contagion and Infection Control

20 02 2013

I recently came across a new infographic that I love, and it reminded me to post on here about the importance of data visualization, especially when it comes to getting big messages across very quickly and in very few words. Our brains are visual. We only began reading and writing in the last few thousand years, and even then, it has been a rare gift and privilege for most of that time. However we have been visually absorbing information for as long as we, and our predecessors, have had eyes.

The infographic I mentioned (posted below) also reminded me that we, as health promoters are trying to s-p-r-e-a-d information and stop the spread of disease and poor health.

Print

Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/matthewherper/files/2013/02/c6fb5feb7f1ee71b7e725277d3099916.jpg 

The above infographic was created by Leon Farrant, a graphic designer in Purchase, N.Y., using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

– Sarah Topps 2013

Note: I am also currently a contributing author and moderator of a blog about health promotion, communication and advocacy for a class that I am taking. This post was originally written for that purpose, and since I wrote it, I have re-purposed it to bring over here. (Just so no one thinks I’m stealing!)








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