Policy, environmental, and system change are most challenging
The potentials for system changes are present and challenging. The lead agency and the partners must remain focused on the importance of their impact on the ‘map of public health.’ Each session should incorporate brainstorming, creative activities, concept mapping, one-on-one mentoring, and other forms of organizational development. Using tools that integrate community efforts can result in sustainability and change in policy, environment, and systems.
Communications – “Branding and a logo identifies the initiative with credibility”
Internal and external communications are crucial to a healthy community initiative. Creating a marketing guide helps to articulate the coalition’s goals and activities to the public as well as bring awareness and notification that system change is in the making. Mapping the coalition’s goals and strategies internally provides motivation and purpose to the partners’ efforts. Public display of the coalition’s progress acknowledges contributions, fosters further commitment, and recruits community involvement. Regular monthly meetings, emails, news releases, newsletters, and public media coverage keep the project on the public radar.
Legislative relationships can be very useful in moving system change forward
Engaging a local legislator with special interests in your issues can become a way to identify a champion for the cause. Learning to write reports, briefs, and correspondence with legislators and their aides helps to put your organization and its issues on their radar. Be well versed in the language of advocacy.
Campaign for Community Values Toolkit
This tool is helpful for developing and implementing community-wide awareness of values and intentions and provides practical guidelines.
National Conference of State Legislators
This bipartisan organization aims to improve state legislatures, promote policy innovation, and ensure a strong voice in the legislature. Using the ‘Issues and Research’ tab, navigate to Healthy Community Design and Access to Healthy Food Legislation. Searching by state for specific topic areas will reveal bills, sponsors, actions, and summaries. This can be a source of locating advocates and champions who will ‘put a face’ to your community healthy initiatives.
Influencing Decision Makers
Michigan’s Healthy Community Toolkit Chapter 1 discusses how to engage decision makers to support policy change. This primer is a brief and easy outline of key points on advocacy, lobbying, media relations, and provides examples of policy and environmental change interventions.
Leadership for Healthy Communities
This website provides several resource links focused on advancing policies regarding healthy eating and active living. Under the Resource Tab, you will find a link to Policy Briefs where you can access examples of documents such as Improving access to healthy foods: A guide for policy-makers. This is a good source giving insight to how other communities created change through policy. Case studies, city profiles, databases, and reports give examples for formulating advocacy strategies. An overview presentation on the influence of state and local policy leaders to promote health can be useful in preparing for discussions with policy makers.
Media Access Guide
This useful guide from the CDC Healthy Communities provides a tutorial on media relations and practical tools for creating press releases, media alerts, letters to editors, and public service announcements as well as tips for relating to the media. The references include a glossary of media terms, a sample consent/release form, and other helpful items.
Letters to the Editor
Op-Ed and Letters to Editor Tips provides quick guidelines for writing and submitting opinions and commentaries to newspapers about issues that are crucial to your cause. There is a link to guidelines for communicating with the top100 newspapers nationwide.