The Alberta Healthy Communities Approach (AHCA) is a continuous step-by-step process based on developing connections and collaborating with others.

There are two broad ways to improve peoples’ health and wellness. The most common is by encouraging individuals to change certain health habits such as eating a healthy diet, becoming active and eliminating tobacco use, among other ‘health behaviours’. The second is by creating environments that support making the healthier choice the easier choice. The Healthy Communities Approach focuses more on this second category.

The Healthy Communities Approach originated in Canada in the late 1980s and is currently used across Canada and in communities worldwide. The Approach encourages community groups and leaders to build on existing strengths by engaging all its members through conversations on local priorities. These conversations give community members and partners a voice, helping to identify local assets and priorities, ultimately leading to innovative and creative solutions for specific needs.

Foundational Building Blocks

Each step helps community teams create and strengthen foundational building blocks.

Community/citizen engagement: Exists when there is a process of meaningfully involving community members to work together to determine priority areas for decision-making and action.

Multi-sectoral collaboration:  Exists when community members, facilities and organizations, schools, healthcare, workplaces and other segments of the community work together toward a shared vision and goal.

Asset-based community development: Exists when the community focuses on the knowledge and abilities of its members and existing structures. A focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong (C. Russell, 2016, [TEDx]).

Political commitment: Exists when municipal or council leadership, for example, considers health, well-being, and community engagement in planning and decision making and encourages community action.

Healthy public policy: When enacting procedures, protocols, rules, regulations and/or laws that support health and wellness in the physical, social and economic environments exist and are followed.

5 Step Process

Each building block of the Healthy Communities Approach adds to a strong foundation for your healthy community initiative. This section walks you through an effective 5-step process for putting all the blocks in place.

 

The Alberta Healthy Community Approach supports communities to define their own pathways to health and wellness.

The approach

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