What are the Healthy Community Principles?

Healthy Communities is an approach to understanding and improving health and well-being that is built on decades of work and the thinking of individuals/organizations around the world. The following principles are key to enriching the work within communities:

  • A broad definition of “health.” Defining health broadly to include the full range of quality of life issues. It recognizes that most of what creates health is lifestyle and behavior related. Other major factors are genetic endowment and the socio-economic, cultural, and physical environment.
  • A broad definition of “community.” Using a broad definition of what makes up a community, individuals and partnerships can address their shared issues in the most fruitful way possible.
  • Shared vision from community values. A community’s vision is the story of its desired future. A community’s vision reflects the core values of its diverse members.
  • Quality of life for everyone. Striving to ensure that the basic emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of everyone in the community are attended to.
  • Diverse citizen participation and ownership. All people taking active and ongoing responsibility for themselves, their families, their property, and their community. A leader’s work is to find common ground among participants, so that everyone is empowered to take direct action for health and influence community directions.
  • Focus on “systems change.” Looking at how community services are delivered, how information is shared, how local government operates, and how business is conducted.
  • Build capacity using local assets and resources. Starting from existing community strengths and successes and investing in the enhancement of a community’s “civic infrastructure.”
  • Benchmark and measure progress and outcomes. Using performance measures and community indicators to help expand the flow of information and accountability to all citizens, as well as to reveal whether residents are heading toward or away from their stated goals. Timely, accurate information is vital to sustaining long-term community improvement.
  • Youth development. Recruiting and engaging youth to be full partners in community-based efforts.

Source: Darvin Ayre, Gruffie Clough, and Tyler Norris, Principals, Community Initiatives, LLC (2006).