Community Stories:

Celebrate Success: Brooks, Alberta

The Alberta Healthy Communities Initiative (AHCI) involved 19 rural communities partnering with Alberta Health Services (AHS), Cancer Prevention and Screening Innovation (CPSI) to learn and engage in the Alberta Healthy Communities Approach. The initiative was based on the principle that, when working together, communities can determine their own solutions to create supportive environments that foster healthy choices.

The Plan

Newell Wellness Team (NWT) was established in 2019 after the City of Brooks and Brooks Communities Choosewell, both applied for and were jointly selected, to take part in the AHCI. The team included community volunteers and representatives from the local Farmer’s Market, Public Library, Grassland Public School, City Recreation Department, City Council, AHS Nutrition Services, AHS Population Health and Rural Mental Health. Together, their mission was to build community capacity to promote, enable and enhance community wellness. NWT chose the tag line, Better Together, reflecting their core value and way of working.

The Outcomes

After learning more about the community context, a comprehensive communication plan was developed to highlight healthy living messages and existing community assets that support healthy eating, physical activity and social connections. Radio ads, interviews and posters were released across the city. The team then focused on simple improvements to local spaces and places that would encourage and increase accessibility of physical activity options available in the city. A new repair station was added to the skatepark, popular pathways were stenciled with healthy behavior messages; such as “Remember to grab your water!”, and bike racks will be installed in the spring of 2024 at strategically chosen locations to encourage active travel. The team was also able to upgrade water stations to make them more accessible to the public.

The team also collaboratively identified ways to improve mental wellbeing by supporting community connections. Several organizations worked together to host a screening of the Great Disconnect, a film that explores the factors that impact community health. The film sparked meaningful conversations on how to build stronger connections.

After four years of working together, the Newell Wellness Team has passed their torch along to community sustainability partners. They plan to build upon existing community strengths, leverage relationships built as part of NWT, and mobilize ongoing action in creating community environments that foster healthy choices. The impact of Newell Wellness Team efforts has been recognized across the community. Thank you, Brooks!