Community Stories:

Celebrate Success: Smokey Lake

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 (AHCA). The initiative was based on the principle that, when working together, communities can determine their own solutions to create community environments that support and encourage healthy choices.  

Elevate Wellness was established in late 2019 after the Town of Smoky Lake FCSS applied for the AHCI. The team wanted to build a healthy, sustainable community that is engaged, connected and inclusive. Working collaboratively, the team understood that building social connections and engaging residents were all ways to nurture community health and wellness.

The Plan

“We had developed all the asset mappings and identifying our resources in the community. And then we just went from there, how to bridge certain things, in terms of reaching different agencies and community members that could participate.” ELEVATE Wellness Team Member

After gaining a comprehensive understanding of local strengths and resources, the team landed on enhancing the community environment to promote and increase accessibility of physical activity opportunities. The Smoky Lake Public library collaborated with the team to create the “Library of Things” which included a variety of items for loan such as bocce ball game sets, walking poles and snowshoes. 

“I love that I was able to try out the walking poles. I liked them so much I purchased a pair for myself.” 

The Outcomes

The results of a community survey highlighted suggestions to enhance the local trail system. The town was on board to support this initiative and agreed to partner and provide support to improve paths, upgrade benches, add garbage bins and include way finding signage along the trails. 

Recognizing the impact of the COVID-10 pandemic on community members’ mental well-being and connection to community, Elevate Wellness looked to create a space where community members could connect. The Devonian Park was identified as a perfect location. Efforts unfolded to beautify the outdoor space and add accessible picnic areas, benches and a raised garden beds. 

“When we think about post-pandemic, you know like from Physical Fitness to Mental Wellness, all of those domains became even more critical after when we're trying to get the community to reconnect and reenergize themselves and reground themselves, after such a big shift or change that they had to overcome.” 

Furthermore, herbs and vegetables were planted and maintained by community members and evening learning sessions took place to increase knowledge and awareness of growing and harvesting vegetables. Plans continue to install more raised garden beds this spring! 

“...the projects we worked on are what the community needed, and they have been well received by the community."