This summer, our coalition, along with 10 new community stakeholders, met at the New Beginnings Agape Christian Center in Freehold for a meeting of boundary-spanning . We presented our Blueprint for Action to stakeholders who represented various facets of our community, including a senior residential facility, a community church, the Freehold Borough School District, the Social Communities Activities Network, Casa Freehold, and the Paul McGuire Family Health Center.
In one boundary-spanning activity, the visual explorer exercise, we asked attendees to choose a picture that best represented their vision of a healthy community, and it yielded exciting results. Everyone in the room agreed that a healthy community is one that is connected in their efforts and works together toward a common goal. Moreover, we recognized that there are already existing programs and organizations within our community that can be better connected, and our coalition has the capacity to do just that!
Here is a sample of the images used in the visual explorer exercise, and the responses they elicited:
“Healthy communities are connected communities. Collaboration between transportation, employment and education.”
“Community resources are constantly working [racing] against each other to accomplish the same things. It’s time to come together to accomplish our common goals.”
“The ship is your community. On the larger ship people are safe, on the smaller ship people are not “as safe,” just as not everyone has the same opportunities for healthy living. “
The World Café exercise allowed different stakeholders to interact with one another, discuss potential opportunities for collaboration, and identify what type of role they could play in our coalition’s initiatives. This brainstorming session fostered creative ideas along with a high level of energy and excitement for our work ahead. The World Café model is one way to engage new community members in the health conversation. Our fellow NJHI grantee in Elizabeth is also using it to hear from its community stakeholders. Learn more about the “World Café” method here.
Our Neighborhood Connections to Health coalition and the stakeholders we’ve recruited were able to see how different organizations across the community possess similar goals and interests through our boundary-spanning exercises. We look forward to expanding even more as a team through these outreach efforts! We encourage you to share your thoughts on this work of building a healthier Freehold by contacting Neighborhood Connections to Health via social media or reaching our project director, Colleen Nelson, here.