Where a person lives in Ottawa can affect their health and how well their children perform in school, but it can be changed.

Following up on a 2008 study that examined 89 neighbourhoods in Ottawa, community leaders and activists gathered yesterday to discuss how they can use the data to improve their own neighbourhoods.

“I hope that people are more interested in the place where they live,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kristjansson, leader of the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study.

“We have a huge amount of information available and I hope people use it to understand how they, as an organization, can use that information to improve their neighbourhood.”

Information about each neighbourhood is available on the study website at www.neighbourhoodstudy.ca.

Aaron Burry, the city’s general manager of community and social services, said the neighbourhood study has helped identify solutions for issues facing specific areas. Some issues will require decades of investment, but there are others that can be addressed quickly.

“In my experience, as you start working on the smaller things, you build a greater capacity for the larger thing to change,” he said.

Ottawa Community Housing has its own Healthy Communities Initiative that is consistent with the city’s program, said OCH CEO Joanne Poirier.

“It’s really important that our tenant be involved and work with the residents of the area where they live,” said Poirier.

“Where we’ve been able to do that, people get to know each other and better understand that they all have common goals.”

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