Komkan Africa Institute and NSTEP-Teaming up for healthy futures for children and youth!

The Cause

This NSTEP Komkan collaboration is for knowledge transfer to moms in the Dover and Forest lawn area,
This project will break the education content down to one-hour “bites” with Jackie Nyamao delivering content with support from NSTEP. The second layer is a food literacy component of incorporating cultural foods plus nutritiously dense foods that Canada produces. This nucleus of 15 moms will then be supported to become trainers of this knowledge into their community, in their language, repeating this process 3-4 times in a calendar year.

Why is this collaboration so important NOW?
By 2040 over 70% of Canadian adults will be overweight or obese, and the resulting chronic diseases will cripple our society if nothing changes. With health champions like Jackie, we can create healthier futures for today’s children, tomorrow’s adults.

From Jackie Nyamao
“In community events around Forest Lawn, Dover, I often asked the simple question; whether anyone in my community had gone for a walk or done any form of physical activity (on that day). Often the answer was - NO. As a community leader, families and mothers often shared their challenges with me.
Over time some common themes began to emerge:
Medical challenges attributable to nutritional deficiencies such as (Anemia and diabetes during pregnancy),
Chronic fatigue
Mental health issues- including depression,
Hyperactive children who were hard to control and who were inattentive,
Food security- having limited food choices and hence experiencing starvation because of not having sufficient information on availability, cost-efficient choices, and
Lack of physical activity.

During home visits, I noticed that children spent a lot of time watching TV, while their mothers socialized, worked, and sat. I further learned that many families had lived for decades in refugee camps awaiting migration, where the norm was to sit and wait for the weekly UN food stamps. People did not have an opportunity to choose what they ate, get an education, and had been dislocated by war from their cultures. Hence their way of life and orientation to life had been to sit and not be active.”

NSTEP content includes understanding what is healthy eating, why activity and nutrition are critical for brain function, simplifying complex messages for individuals to understand, apply and practice. Having FUN while learning would include our food literacy program Chef on NSTEP.

Who Will it Benefit?

Specifically, this project will benefit children, youth, families in Dover, Forest Lawn who are new to Canada, approximately 6,000 individuals in year 1. The food in Canadian grocery stores looks very much different to the foods they may have had in their country of origin. Low English speaking skills are a further barrier. That is why having a trusted member of the community, who speaks various languages, listens closely to what the issues are is the strength of this project. Without Jackie Nyamao, NSTEP would never have been able to implement its education programs and services.
There are over 16,000 S. Sudanese members in Calgary. This project has the potential of creating and training an army of 60 mom NSTEP health champions in Dover and the Forest Lawn area. They will take this knowledge into their families, their neighbors, and other community organizations translating NSTEP content to ensure understanding.

NSTEP was introduced to Komkan African Institute Director Khor Top, by Dan Doherty. We explained that we really wanted to find a community member who was passionate about children’s health. Our goal - to train a well-respected and trusted community member with the Level 1 NSTEP EAT WALK LIVE certificate. Khor introduced us to Jackie Nyamao, his wife, who immigrated from Kenya in 2012 and is a CPA, well educated, and speaks different dialects.

July 2021, the first session with Jackie was unbelievably rich, as Jackie described the mental health issues she was hearing in her community.
Jackie is a mother of three, has one child with Type 1 Diabetes, and felt she was knowledgeable about nutrition. She learned how physical activity can increase brain function and connectivity, Dr. John Ratey’s research. This was the spark that initiated a mom’s walking group in July. From those small beginnings, Jackie has spread NSTEP’s message to many community members. This is the NSTEP model of training a local health champion and they deliver the content. Jackie after the first 2 hour NSTEP seminar recognized that she could be the catalyst to change people’s lives. Her passion for improving health outcomes for her community is inspiring. Being able to inspire others, moms will have an even bigger ripple effect, will ensure that more children and families will have healthier habits for life.
The partnership between NSTEP and Komkan has changed lives and can potentially change the destiny of more than 20 thousand Calgarians and more across Alberta.