Health sciences lecturer honoured as social trailblazer
SFU health sciences lecturer Paola Ardiles has been honoured with a 2017 Surrey Board of Trade Women in Business award for her role as a community “social trailblazer.”
The annual awards recognize the work of Surrey’s businesswomen and their contributions to the community. Ardiles is cited for contributing to myriad public health areas including mental health promotion, health literacy, cultural competency, immigrant and refugee health and women’s mental health.
Ardiles provides mentorship and supervision for students interested in the public health field. She recently co-designed the new Health Change Lab at SFU Surrey, in partnership with SFU’s Radius Social Innovation Lab, Beedie School of Business.
The Health Change Lab launched as an experiential program to help students co-design innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to complex social/health problems in partnership with City of Surrey, Fraser Health Authority and various community partners.
Such partnerships ensured that students were working with mentors and coalitions to support priority areas identified by the Surrey community, such as food security, active transportation for seniors, mental health and substance use issues.
This past week her fourth-year students participated in the Surrey arm of Metro Vancouver’s Homeless count and saw first-hand the impact of homelessness and poverty.
“I’m incredibly honoured to receive this award, and will continue to work with our students and community partners towards solutions to our most urgent public health issues,” says Ardiles, who shared the award with her two co-nominees, Jen Temple of the Trademark Group and Alice Sundberg of Surrey’s Poverty Reduction Coalition.
Ardiles has placed a particular focus on youth engagement and leadership development over the last few years. In 2015, she launched a social media campaign for youth and with youth to answer the questions of why and how to best engage youth in global health policy development.
Ardiles joined SFU’s Faculty of Health Sciences in 2013 to design and teach a new curriculum on health promotion in the Canadian context for the Master of Public Health program. The same year, she founded Bridge for Health (B4H), a local and global network focusing on social innovation to promote health and wellbeing.
Since forming the network, Ardiles has worked to engage students, academics, professionals and organizations to share their talents, ideas and solutions in the B4H creative space. She also created an advisory group of global research and policy experts, whose initial report instigated the creation of a youth symposium at the World Health Organization’s international conference in Shanghai last fall.
For the past eight years, she has been a board member of the Public Health Association of BC and is past president of the non-for-profit organization, which advocates for healthy public policies. Her collaborative efforts led to the first public dialogue between the business sector and B.C.’s public health community, the first of its kind in Canada.
The idea of using sustainable business practices as a force for good health led her to enrol in SFU’s part-time MBA program in Surrey to study the concept. That led to the recent launch of the Bridge for Health Cooperative, to support businesses to design healthy social and physical environments in the workplace.
In 2016, Bridge for Health piloted its Well-being at Work Innovation Labs in Surrey with some local businesses as part of a Surrey Board of Trade event. The co-op will be implementing the labs in Brazil in May 2017.
The awards luncheon feature speaker, Margaret Trudeau, an SFU outstanding alumni award recipient, praised the work of all the award nominees.