Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, and Parkland County: Building a Healthy Community over Cups of Coffee

In Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County, Achieving Community Together (ACT) is encouraging real conversations – and real momentum – to build community capacity in the Tri-Municipal Region.

A 2017 Communities ChooseWell Healthy Community ​Award winner in Building Community Capacity, ACT has brought together leaders and citizens from a wide range of sectors, to focus on a common agenda and common measurements in advocating for health. Their goal, is to develop social innovation practices to create healthier communities in the Tri-Region.

“Emerging concepts are being drawn up over cups of coffee and good conversations about how we can create a healthy community without boundaries,” says Parkland School Division Wellness coordinator, Felicia Ochs. “We are putting our feet on the ground one step at a time. We value diversity, and we welcome whoever comes to the table.”

ACT was established in November 2016 as a result of the Change Summit, a community conversation with 125 citizens facilitated by Paul Born, co-director of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement. ACT – guided by a steering committee of 12 and a leadership round table of 35 – is working across sectors to accelerate its impact on complex health issues in the Tri-Region, with member organizations sharing funding, and with people meeting face-to-face to discuss issues and progress over a weekly cup of coffee. These meetings are open to all who want to become involved in helping make the Tri Region a healthier place to live. Whatever someone is interested in – whether it’s active transportation, health and wellness, social change, learning or innovation – they can visit parklandcc.ca, look for the Engagement Wheel and sign up for whatever activity would suit them best, and ACT will channel them into the right place. The site’s online navigation tool includes a region-wide community calendar, blogs about the latest cool trends and activities, and the different ways that people can become involved.  Everyone can choose which areas they are interested in, and at what level of engagement they wish to participate in, Ochs says.

Building a healthy community encompasses everything from nutrition, to physical literacy to mental health. What ACT is focused on, is accelerating its impact on complex issues in the Tri Region, without any duplication of resources or competition for funding.

“And we are deepening our relationships along the way,” Ochs says. “We are redesigning how we build our communities and how we engage our communities authentically.”

Looking ahead, ACT is continuing to work hard to build a healthy community. This year, for example, ACT is launching a social lab round table to action.

“Thank you to ARPA for the opportunities, and thank you so much for creating a space for people within the province to share good news stories,” Ochs says.