Welcome to the Alberta Healthy Communities Approach! This innovative five-step process can foster action and support you to create a healthy community.
Step 1: Engage and Create Connections
Want to make a change in your community? Build your team! Find other enthusiastic and passionate community members with diverse experience and perspectives to be a part of your team, or join an existing community group or committee and begin your journey.
As you build your team, consider finding people who are:
- Invested in the process and the end goal
- Represent different perspectives
- Enjoy networking and building connections
- See themselves and their skills as adding value to your team
Start community conversations with individuals, groups, agencies and other stakeholders to understand what matters most to people and to generate interest in your team. Once you have your team in place establish a shared vision for your work together and create a Terms of Reference to clarify your purpose, describe your team and set roles and responsibilities.
The Power of Working Together - Cheryl's Story
Through their Eyes - Shana's Story
Need help getting started? Check out step 1 of the AHC Action Guide - for guidance on how to build, and maintain your team and create a vision for your work together.
Tools and Resources:
- Collective Team Assets Inventory: PDF Download
- AHCA Terms of Reference Template: Community Library Login
“(It’s about) … working collaboratively, not in silos, sharing what we know, bringing the community together, building relationships, getting along, having open conversations, developing a plan, leadership, grit and hard work. Be patient with the process –it takes time to capture all the ideas!”
~ Community team member
Step 2: Understand Your Community
Communities are complex. We may think we know what makes up the places where we live, work and play. But do we?
Taking a deeper look at your community by gathering data from different sources can help you better understand community strengths, needs and opportunities.
There are several different ways to build a greater understanding of your community. You can start simple by:
- Creating a community profile
- Developing a community asset map
Or you can dig deeper using comprehensive assessments that take a deeper look at your community and the factors that influence health.
By layering your personal experiences in your community with the information you gathered you are ready to identify priorities and create a plan for your community.
Relationships are the Greatest Asset - Molly's Story
Need help getting started? Check out step 2 of the AHC Action Guide for guidance on how to create a community profile, asset map or carry out a comprehensive community assessment.
Tools and Resources:
- The Community Capacity Assessment Tool: an opportunity to reflect on and ask questions about engaging partners, leveraging resources, skills, knowledge, and creating a shared vision
Community Capacity Assessment Tool
- The Healthy Places Action Tool: provides an assessment of the following focus areas: physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco reduction, alcohol reduction, UV protection, and cancer screening
Healthy Places Action Tool
- CDLI asset map: a tool to map and visualize your community’s strengths and connections
- Community Profile Template: PDF Download
- Community Cancer Prevention and Screening Dashboard: provides you with the most-up-to date data on your community
“Data can tell us about our communities: we were holding assumptions and not recognizing when change was happening.”
~ Community member of Stettler
Step 3: Prioritize and Plan
Using the information you’ve gathered and your amazing community wisdom it’s time to start setting priorities and creating an action plan. Bring your team together and use a priority-setting tool to help you determine where you want to focus your attention.
- The level of importance of the issue
- If it is something that can be changed in the short term
- Your community's resources and capacity to address the issue
- The impact it will have on the community
- If there are any unintended harms or negative consequences
Keep things manageable and remember to keep the community’s strengths, opportunities and interests in mind. Be creative.
Once you have set your priorities begin brainstorming ways to take action. Reflect on the make up of your team and determine if you need to invite others to join you. Need inspiration? Check out community stories and learn about what other communities are doing to help create environments that promote and support health.
Finding your People - Brad's Story
Planners and Doers - Christina's Story
Need help getting started? Check out step 3 of the AHC Action Guide for a variety of tools to help your team brainstorm and set priorities for community-level action.
Tools and Resources:
- Community Brainstorming Template: a tool to help your team map strengths, opportunities, challenges, importance, changeability and set priorities
- Community Action Planning Template: a planning tool to help you set objectives, identify what success looks like and define roles and responsibilities
Strategy Kits: tried, tested and useful strategies and resources to create healthier communities
“Identify what is achievable and realistic...action plans help put ideas on paper, so others can catch the vision”.
~ Community member of Wembley
Step 4: Implement and Evaluate
It’s time to put your plan into action and watch for positive changes in your community! Implementation is where project-specific work begins and community excitement builds. This is where your team will need to mobilize resources, create new connections and partnerships to move work forward and tap into community assets. You will learn a lot along the way and find that new opportunities will emerge or you may face challenges that force you to change directions. Remember it is all part of the process.
Diagram revised from Harmonization Cancer Prevention Team, (2016).
Evaluation provides your team with an opportunity to learn from experience and to showcase the impacts of your initiatives. It demonstrates accountability to your funders and your community. It helps you to identify what is working well and where there is the opportunity for improvement. Use different data collection tools (surveys, focus groups, interviews) to track and monitor your progress. And don’t forget to share your successes and learnings along the way!
Need help getting started? Check out step 4 of the AHC Action Guide for a variety of tools to help your team implement their action plans and determine how they will measure success.
Tools and Resources:
- Evaluation Planning Template: a tool to help your team establish evaluation questions, identify how they will measure success and what data they will need to gather
- Strategy Kits: tried, tested and useful strategies and resources to create healthier communities
“Evaluation shows what worked well, what didn’t and what can be done differently to get the desired outcome”
~ Community team member
Step 5: Sustain, Improve and Share
By celebrating your teams’ accomplishments along the way, you sustain the relationships, connections and capacity you’ve built, and will maintain benefits to communities for years to come.
Thinking about the sustainability of your initiatives at the onset of your planning will set your team up for success.
When planning for sustainability:
- Maintain relationships of your core team to keep the momentum going
- Revisit your assessments and look for new opportunities to create change
- Approach like-hearted organizations to collaborate and sustain initiatives that are successful
Learn from the experience and make improvements along the way. Don’t forget to highlight your achievements and celebrate your successes!
When the Funding Ends - Myrna's Story
You’ve accomplished amazing things and other communities want to learn from you.
“It’s inspiring to see what we can do as a community when we unite and work toward common goals”
~ Community member of Vulcan
Alberta Healthy Communities Action GuideAccess full action guide
Download the full Guide. The Alberta Healthy Communities Action Guide, leads you through the Alberta Healthy Communities Approach and provides you with tools and resources to support you in every step of the process.