The Rice County Growing Up Healthy Planning Project has resulted in many outcomes: a strong collaboration between and among agencies and organizations serving families with young children; a cadre of community members serving as facilitators and leaders; a shared community vision; a community plan to achieve the shared vision; and a greater awareness of the needs of families with young children. But the greatest outcome from this project is, without question, the body of knowledge gained through the community dialog process. Not only did we receive feedback on partner agencies, but we also heard stories from people about how “the system” is not meeting their needs. We learned what families worry about, what keeps them from accessing existing services, and what changes they would like to see made. We were given the opportunity to hear from community members who are often marginalized and overlooked to the point of being unwilling to share information and opinions. And we were also able to gain the trust of many community members who were not necessarily trusting at the beginning of the planning process. It is our greatest hope that we are able to address their concerns and needs in a way that is deserving of their continued trust. The following Shared Community Vision – developed during the planning project – is what continues to guide the Growing Up Healthy project:
Through agency and community collaboration, Growing Up Healthy will collapse barriers, enhance access, and nurture relationships and educational opportunities resulting in a sense of true community spirit that supports an environment where children grow up healthy and thrive.