Building Community Capacity through Coalitions

Tammy Greening and Sherry Kennedy

From left to right: Tammy Greening and Sherry Kennedy

As Health Promotion consultants with Eastern Health and co-chairs of the Eastern Regional Wellness Coalition, we have had ample opportunity to talk with and meet so many diverse community groups and individuals.

This year, we were overwhelmed to be nominated for and to receive the CEO Award of Excellence for Community Capacity Building, but this story is really not about us.  It’s a story about community groups – community people – who care deeply about where they live and their neighbours, friends, children, and families who want to create healthy and safe communities.

Wellness coalitions support communities to do just that.

Eastern Regional Wellness Coalition

Eastern Regional Wellness Coalition

In the Eastern Health region, there are actually two wellness coalitions with a combined membership of over 400 groups and organizations!  The Rural Avalon and Peninsula areas are served by the Eastern Regional Wellness Coalition.  St. John’s and area is served by the Wellness Coalition-Avalon East.  The coalitions are two of six wellness coalitions across the province, comprised of community, government and non-government agencies and others with an interest in promoting wellness and improving the health and well-being of people in the region.

Wellness Coalition Avalon East

Wellness Coalition Avalon East

Eastern Health is the lead organization for our coalitions, providing resources and support. Together with our colleague, Heather Powell, we work within the Health Promotion Division of Eastern Health and oversee the operations for both coalitions.

Grassroots support

It’s truly amazing to watch and be involved with a growing, healthy community. We can’t begin to describe how rewarding it is to help a couple of interested and energetic women work to reduce isolation and increase connections by starting a 50+ or Friendship Club; or to see a group of locals bring their knowledge and tools to work the soil to grow vegetables – and friendships – in a community garden; or to support a whole community to create a gathering and play space where young and old can connect.

Community Garden, Burin

Community Garden, Burin

For us in this role, it’s about the connectivity to these community groups and helping with those partnerships.  These partnerships are so important in helping individuals, groups, organizations, government agencies and departments and communities to work together in promoting health and wellness.  It is through the lens of such partnerships that we see community capacity-building at its finest.

So, as we said in the beginning, this is a story about communities.  No matter if you are a health professional, a member of a community group, a parent, a neighbour, a student, or a town councillor, we all have a part to play in making the places we live, work, and play healthier. Health promotion is happening all around us, each and every day!

Through the coalitions, we are working together to see and be part of that ‘bigger picture.’  As one member stated in a recent survey completed by the Wellness Coalition-Avalon East, “The coalition is very important to our organization.  It keeps us up-to-date on what is happening, allows us to share programs and information and helps all involved contribute to wellness in this province.”

…We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! ■

This story was written by Tammy Greening and Sherry Kennedy.  Tammy is a Wellness Consultant in Clarenville, and Sherry is a Regional Health Coordinator in Harbour Grace.

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