Community Stories:

Pincher Creek - Alberta Healthy Communities Approach in action

Pincher Creek Wellness Committee 

Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund (ACPLF) has adopted the foundations of the Healthy Community Approach (HCA) and has been working across Alberta to pilot a 5 step process of working with communities to take action on cancer prevention and community wellnessThe 5 building blocks of the HCA are: Community Engagement, Multi-sectoral Collaboration, Political Commitment, Healthy Public Policy and Asset Based Community Development. The Healthy Communities Approach supports community champions in taking steps towards action. These steps include: engaging and creating connections, understanding your community, prioritizing & planning, implementation & evaluation, sustaining and sharing.

Here is an example of the HCA in action:

Starting in 2015, Pincher creek signed up to take part in this provincial pilot project along with 15 other communities across Alberta. Pincher Creek receives a 25,000 grant to implement their initiatives.  Their vision is: To Foster and Grow a Healthy Community.

  • UV availability
  • Physical Activity accessibility
  • Nutrition availability and accessibility

Creating connections: Introductions and relationship building are core components of this work. Various organizations and community members are invited to participate in meetings to discuss the project and brainstorm big picture overview. In December of 2015, a multisector team is formed which includes representation from organizations, community, health and workplace.

The Pincher Creek Wellness Committee (PCWC) is established with a goal to kick start community action planning!

Understand your Community: Using an assessment tool created by ACPLF, The Healthy Places Action tool assesses the community environments (physical, social, economic, and policy) by looking across 5 community settings and at multiple sites to give a snapshot of what is going on in community environments for health.  It measures community strategies, not individual.  For example it looks at whether there are healthy eating options in a rec center compared to looking at the number of fruits and veg an individual consumes.

Prioritize and Plan:

The Pincher Creek assessment identified the following priority areas:

An action plan is created with the help of an ACPLF Healthy Promotion Facilitator assigned to the team. The facilitator role is to support the process, help build internal committee capacity and assist with the tools, data collection, planning and evaluation.

The following are highlights from the Action Plan and Achievements over the last 3 years:

Actions on UV:

2 Portable 10’X20’ tents are purchased for use at community events. A Wellness tree is planted and dedicated at the Town Office. A portable sunscreen stand is set up which includes a wellness board with UV messaging and UV bracelets for public distribution. A picnic table with a sunshade was purchased for the new spray park.

Actions on Physical Activity:

A Meditation Class is offered to the community. A local Kinesiologist developed brochures with workouts for the outdoor fitness gym. A Bike rack project works on building and installing 3 new bike racks. Nerf Wars project is being administered by the Town.  It has been very successful at getting families and youth more active.  The nerf wars package is also available to rent out for private functions which helps our group with sustainability costs. Physical literacy kits have been purchased and being used at community events.  They will also be used in partnership with the library summer program. Ads and promotion of the group also go in the Activity Guide.

Action on Healthy Eating:

11 community raised garden beds are build and installed in Pincher Creek. Walking route of the 11 gardens is planned for a pathways map update! 4 3x8 wicking beds are built for use of the food bank. Spins offs begin to emerge such as: a local Rodeo food truck now offers healthy food! People are catching on!

Evaluation throughout the process is carried through such as action planning reviews, focus groups.A Post SUCCESS tool will be collected in 2018 to measure changes in the community.

Share your success! Pincher Creek has been Featured in Apple Magazine and recognized by a Choosewell award! A “Year in review” presentations was created to share the story to potential partners and other communities that want to learn from experience.

Pincher Creek is leading the way in community development. Each community has the wisdom to create a healthy environment, so remember to trust the process:

  • Upfront investment of time: Build relationships from the start!
  • Collaboration: we need to work together.
  • There are people who believe in healthy communities: Find them!
  • Evidence & Research are key
  • Learn from others: Celebrate & Share Stories
  • Evaluate challenges and successes.
  • Build in sustainability from the start.
  • Create a place to connect

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