Build Relationships

When mobilizing for health, it’s important to build relationships.

Involving family and community members in an initiative increases the success and sustainability of community strategies and healthy behaviors in people. The families and community members most affected by obesity are the best partners for understanding the contexts that support or undermine their health.

Families and community members can provide valuable information on the best ways to adapt strategies for local action. Community member and family involvement also builds knowledge, skills, and confidence, leading to positive impacts on health and wellbeing for both adults and kids.

Some ways to partner with community members include:

  • Action research to identify problems and come up with solutions
  • Community planning meetings
  • Neighborhood design workshops

Some ways to partner with community members include:

  • Cooking classes or healthy grocery store walk-throughs
  • Community walks or rides to support active community initiatives
  • Public events in community gardens, rec centers, and parks

When engaging families and community members, it’s important to consider:

Culture. Involve family and community members in selecting and adapting strategies to ensure that strategies build from community strengths and respect cultural variation.

Barriers. Addressing barriers of transportation, cost, insurance, scheduling, timing, language, and in other areas, can increase participation and promote success.

Language. Language that refers to obesity or overweight can offend or discourage people. Alternative language that refers to promoting healthy lives or health and wellness is often more welcoming.

Capacity. Strategies that build professional skills, develop partnerships, and enhance coordination are more likely to be effective and sustained over time.