Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Sensitization Sessions as the Foundation for Training Transformation Activities

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Sensitization Sessions as the Foundation for Training Transformation Activities

Article excerpt


The worldwide rise in obesity makes this the first non-infectious epidemic in human history. The rapid increase is, in fact, influenced more by environment than biology. In an effort to halt the trend, Quebec has launched a major awareness-raising campaign that focuses on healthy environments and targets stakeholders in schools, municipalities, communities and the health sector. The purpose of the present study, then, is to determine how this campaign can promote action towards environments conducive to healthy lifestyles. The theoretical framework is based on planned change. The objectives are to 1) evaluate the quality of awareness-raising methods offered by trainers, and 2) place the impacts of the sessions into perspective. A qualitative approach was prioritized, consisting of two focus groups conducted with 17 trainers. From the standpoint of a healthy environment, sensitization sessions expanded networking, provided a common frame of reference and drove coherent actions for stakeholders involved. As an agent of change, the trainer played a key role in implementing the sessions. The conditions offered encouraged the transition from awareness to information, thereby generating significant results in terms of action. A sensitization session is thus a prerequisite for training transformation activities aimed in innovation.

Keywords: healthy environments, educational change, sensitization sessions, evaluation, trainers

1. Literature Review

1.1 Introduction

The World Health Organization (WHO) has alerted governments about the development of the first non-infectious epidemic in human history: obesity (Froguel, Guy-Grand, & Clement, 2000). Although modern life has brought major advances, it has also contributed to obesity "epidemic". Developed societies foster the overconsumption of energy-rich foods, while individuals expend less and less energy (De Bandt, 2004). Industrialization and food processing, the sharp rise in home and industrial automation and the fast pace of modern life have strongly encouraged the development of sedentary lifestyles to the detriment of healthy living (Bouchard, 2000).

Indeed, many experts believe that the rapid rise in obesity is a result of environment rather than biology (Hill, Wyatt, Reed, & Peters, 2003). Significant research highlights the contribution of four environments-physical, sociocultural, economic and political-that are likely to promote an active lifestyle and healthy food choices (Booth et al., 2001; Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux [MSSS], 2012).

To date, numerous initatives to promote healthy environments have been implemented to train influential stakeholders to facilitate environments more conducive to healthy living (Cohen, Scribner, & Farley, 2000). An evaluation and monitoring process is now required to appreciate the changes effected based on initial intention and anticipated degree of quality (Handicap International, 2008).

1.2 Background

A number of measures and action plans have been implemented in countries throughout the world to fight obesity and promote healthy lifestyles; examples include the United States (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2014), Europe (Commission européenne, 2014) and Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010). In Quebec, the 2006-2012 Government Action Plan to Promote Healthy Lifestyles and Prevent weight-related Problems, entitled Investigating for the Future (MSSS, 2006), emphasizes the promotion of healthy lifestyles based on physical activity and healthy eating. This plan served as a lever for multiple networks of stakeholders focused on effective or promising actions to promote healthy lifestyles, including an approach aimed at facilitating more healthy environments. With this objective in mind, the Comité québécois de formation sur les saines habitudes de vie together with its collaborators launched a training program with the goal of sensitizing stakeholders in various sectors to the need and way to build healthy environments and promote active lifestyle and healthy food choices. …

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