CHNA 18 develops every program, funding initiative, or activity using the Healthy Communities principles as a guide. The Healthy Communities process facilitates new collaborations and brings together a variety of community members to identify a shared vision for the community. Together they create and implement a plan to improve community health and well-being. This process is shaped by the people who participate, by the needs that they identify and by the resources available in the community. Thus, Healthy Communities processes look different in every community despite following similar steps. In a Healthy Communities context, health is not merely access to healthcare and the absence of disease, but strengthening positive social, mental, physical, economic, and environmental conditions.
Healthy Communities Principles
What is a Healthy Community? A Healthy Community is where people come together to make their community better for themselves, their family, their friends, their neighbors, and others. A Healthy Community creates ongoing dialogue, generates leadership opportunities for all, embraces diversity, connects people and resources, fosters a sense of community, and shapes its future. What are the Healthy Community principles? Healthy Communities is an approach to understanding and improving health and well-being that is built on decades of work and the thinking of individuals/organizations around the world. The following principles are key to enriching the work within communities.
A broad definition of "health." Defining health broadly to include the full range of quality of life issues. It recognizes that most of what creates health is lifestyle and behavior related. Other major factors are genetic endowment and the socio-economic, cultural, and physical environment.
A broad definition of "community." Using a broad definition of what makes up a community, individuals and partnerships can address their shared issues in the most fruitful way possible.
Shared vision from community values. A community's vision is the story of its desired future. A community's vision reflects the core values of its diverse members.
Quality of life for everyone. Striving to ensure that the basic emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of everyone in the community are attended to.
Diverse citizen participation and ownership. All people taking active and ongoing responsibility for themselves, their families, their property, and their community. A leader's work is to find common ground among participants, so that everyone is empowered to take direct action for health and influence community directions.
Focus on "systems change." Looking at how community services are delivered, how information is shared, how local government operates, and how business is conducted.
Build capacity using local assets and resources. Starting from existing community strengths and successes and investing in the enhancement of a community's "civic infrastructure."
Benchmark and measure progress and outcomes. Using performance measures and community indicators to help expand the flow of information and accountability to all citizens, as well as to reveal whether residents are heading toward or away from their stated goals. Timely, accurate information is vital to sustaining long-term community improvement.
Youth development. Recruiting and engaging youth to be full partners in community-based efforts.
Source: Darvin Ayre, Gruffie Clough, and Tyler Norris, Principals, Community Initiatives, LLC (2006).
The Massachusetts Department of Public health Community Coalition Engagement Guidelines The CHC adheres to the principles of The MA Dept/ of Public Health's Community Coalition Engagement Guidelines (click link for full guidelines).
MDPH considers a coalition to be a group that meets the following minimum requirements:* Statement of purpose and shared activities; Shared vision including a focus on reducing health disparities and promoting health equity; Consistency with MDPH’s goals and priorities; Participation from key stakeholders (individuals and organizations that have a vested stake or interest in a program or policy initiative, e.g. it will impact them directly); Effective utilization of data to inform goal and activity selection, implementation, and evaluation; Defined leadership, e.g. a lead organization or lead volunteer structure; Membership that is reflective of the community; Defined structure for strategic planning and decision-making; and Defined coalition member roles.