Established in 2007 to address the social factors influencing the health of young families in Rice County, Growing Up Healthy is a coalition of organizations and agencies serving families and residents.
Vision: We envision a Rice County in which diverse populations are connected to each other and are active participants in creating a community where all families thrive.
Mission: Growing Up Healthy works with partner organizations and immigrant and refugee families to transform communities through cultivating neighborhood leadership, fostering social connectedness, and collectively advocating for change within neighborhoods and systems.
Strategies: We have and continue to approach this mission through three interrelated areas of work:
- The work of our community organizers: Leaders in each Growing Up Healthy Neighborhood are tasked with communicating regularly with their neighbors to find out what issues they face. Then they work as teams, with consultation from a Growing Up Healthy Coordinator, to develop and implement solutions to the identified issues. Often this includes feedback to the coalition partner organizations, requiring individual organizations to evaluate their internal policies, or requiring the partners to work together in new ways to meet the changing needs of local residents.
- Systems change: We work collaboratively to identify and address policies and structures that can improve the lives of young children and their families. This systems view can be within a single organization (e.g. evaluating an internal policy with regards to having an interpreter on call), across multiple organizations in a single sector (e.g. farmers, social service organizations, and individuals passionate about local food systems working together to bring the EBT card readers to farmer’s markets), or across multiple sectors (e.g. social service organizations, city staff, youth-based organizations and businesses coming together to define transportation needs in the community). As stated above, this work is directly informed by community members.
- Increased community education and awareness about the social determinants of health: Our efforts here have focused on changing community attitudes toward low-income, immigrant, and marginalized families in Rice County. In the past, we have utilized the documentary series “Unnatural Causes”, which discusses the social determinants of health. More than 600 individuals in Rice County have seen all or part of the series and discussed the local implications.