If you are looking for ways to further integrate community engagement in the programs, projects and events you deliver, here is something I learned when leading wellness programming for the Black Creek Community Health Centre.
You need to engage the communities you’re working with in the decision-making process. It sounds straightforward, but it’s something we can miss when we work on programs that contribute to societal goals.
It’s important to learn the why of your initiatives through research. To get buy-in and turnout however, you need to reach community members through conversation and consultation.
When I started doing wellness programs with the BCCHC, my turnout wasn’t as high as I anticipated. This is because I tried to focus on research and what I thought would help with Black mens’ wellness. As I spoke with more community members, turnout improved, and my program plan even changed. The end result was a wellness program that served more than 130 Black men and youth across the GTA, and helped them find ways to seamlessly integrate health and wellness in their lives.
Now I understand that for this community, wellness programs aren’t just workshops with vulnerable conversations and free food for example. It’s that, and a mix of more relaxed events. It can also be an organized activity that gives you an excuse to treat your kids or catch up with friends. It can also be a trip to the spa where transportation is covered. Check out and explore our Instagram Page to see some recap content of our events.
That’s just one example, but I believe you could apply this approach to several areas of work (e.g., If you replaced the word community in this blog with stakeholder, this may apply in a more corporate setting too). The more you incorporate the people who will be impacted by your work, the more engagement and success you may find in what you do.
If you want to talk more about program planning and community engagement, let’s get in touch!
Note: This picture was taken following one of our 2023 events at Activate in Brampton. We brought Black Creek community members, family and friends to the active gaming centre to focus on their wellness! We promoted physical activity, relationship building, and ultimately provided pamphlets and resources to equip community members with health resources. We made health and wellness fun!