Coalition Building and Equity for Healthy Communities

On Sunday afternoon at NPC17, planners and public health professionals spent four hours discussing coalition building and equity while sharing strategies for fostering the healthy communities movement in their states and regions.

The 28 APA chapters working on the Planners4Health project have spent the past three months assessing the partners, active initiatives, and assets within their communities in order to best develop plans for moving this work forward. Planners4Health groups and partners have also participated in the first half of a series of webinars APA's Planning and Community Health Center hosted in partnership with the Prevention Institute.

The opportunity to connect in person at NPC allowed peer-to-peer learning to blossom.

Sandra Viera and Rachel Bennett from the Prevention Institute led the room through an interactive workshop on coalition building, intentionally weaving equity throughout the conversations.

They shared this definition of health equity:

Health equity means that every person, regardless of who they are — the color of their skin, their level of education, their gender or sexual identity, whether or not they have a disability, the job that they have, or the neighborhood that they live in — has an equal opportunity to address optimal health.

As part of their healthy communities work, Planners4Health groups are building coalitions and also networks. Understanding the difference between the two was an important part of the conversation.

Coalitions are affiliations of people or groups with a shared purpose whereas networks consist of the relationships among individuals and organizations that are making movements happen. Viera and Bennett also prompted the room to discuss some of the benefits of forming a collation:

  • Brings together diverse experience and skills
  • Gathers a wide array of perspectives
  • Combines advocacy power
  • Provides access to more constituencies and network
  • Creates a greater focus on common goals
  • Fosters sustainability

The second half of the workshop focused on peer learning.

Four of the Planners4Health groups — representatives from Hawaii, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Oregon — sat in the front of the room as the "fishbowl," with the rest of the participants acting as the "fish tank." This allowed for diving deep into specific topics as well as questions participants had for one another.

Stay connected with the Planners4Health efforts by joining the next webinar on June 14 at 3 p.m. ET.

If you're here in New York for NPC, join the Healthy Communities Collaborative on Monday for a business meeting at 6 p.m. and a reception at 7:30 p.m. to connect with fellow planners working to build healthy communities.

Top image: Thinkstock photo.


About the Author
Aliza Norcross is a project associate for APA's Planning and Community Health Center.

May 8, 2017

By Aliza Norcross