Step 1 is all about finding other enthusiastic and passionate people to work with to foster change.

An essential element of the Healthy Communities Approach is developing a diverse team with representatives from different community settings. Diversity is essential to encourage engagement of the community at large, collaboration across sectors and local political commitment.

Calling all community champions and changemakers!

Anyone with a passion for improving the community alongside others can be a community leader, champion or changemaker. All you need is a desire to bring people together and work towards a common goal. 

Establishing a community team

When building a community team, look for passionate people. Those individuals  who are skilled connectors, networkers, innovators and talented at getting the word out will help put your team on the path to innovation. Collaboration is a foundation of the Healthy Communities Approach.

Consider the following ideas to establish a team or enhance an existing one:

  • Develop an elevator pitch or short script your ideas!
  • Find and connect with people who are the keeners, leaders and connectors and go for coffee!
  • The municipal government, council, local administrators, Elders and elected officials can be natural community champions to foster change and help implement initiatives.
  • Find out whether there are existing groups and organizations that champion similar initiatives in the community.
  • Think about who is missing from your committee and who could be the unusual suspects. Who could benefit or be impacted by the committee’s actions in the community? Everyone has something to contribute!
  • Ask everyone you connect with about other people who could also be interested.
  • Take advantage of social media to spread your ideas, connect and recruit.

Community conversations

Once the team is organized, having community conversations is the first step to collaboration between individuals, groups, agencies and other stakeholders. Community conversations can be a safe place to engage with each other by sharing experiences and talking about the community. By sharing and talking, they start to figure out how to work together.

Ready to hold a community conversation? Here are a few suggested questions to get the conversation started:

  • What do you love about your community?
  • What are some of the things in your community that make healthier choices easier?
  • What do you want your community to look like five years from now?
  • Who are the individuals and groups of people that could work together to achieve this vision?

Creating a shared vision

Collaboration starts with a clear direction of the team’s broad goals. Common values and a shared vision and mission statements can guide the team’s planning and action. It can also help with the identification of key partners and stakeholders.

Shared values describe the fundamental beliefs that inspire the team’s vision and guide the culture and subsequent actions of a group. Shared values are similar to agreed-upon ground rules for how team members will work together. Cultural components, such as history, beliefs and attitudes can influence team dynamics and processes and should always be respected.

Vision is an agreed-upon statement that encompasses the team members’ common interests and is grounded in common values. A shared vision closely relates to goals and the mission (e.g., creating a healthy community through sustainable partnership).

Mission statements are developed to summarize the core purpose and intended direction of the group as captured by goals and values of a group or organization.

 Word cloud: example of a vision statement

Word cloud designed with (no endorsement intended)

Building a Terms of Reference

A good way to formalize the shared values, vision and mission including how the team will operate is through developing a Terms of Reference (TOR).

Terms of Reference lay the collective ground rules for how a team will work together. Use the sample template provided to fill in the roles, responsibilities and processes your group will use to create an effective team!

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