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Forging Ahead with a Stronger Framework

Staff Perspective Shireen Malekafzali

Dear Get Healthy SMC,

It’s hard to imagine that we are in the home stretch of our 2015-2020 Get Healthy SMC Strategic Plan. Five years ago, you told us that being healthy wasn’t just about getting to the gym, having vegetables with lunch, and cutting out soda for kids. You shared your experiences and those of your families and communities that demonstrated that we can’t be healthy in isolation – we need healthy, equitable communities for all.

We asked you what healthy equitable communities meant to you and you helped develop a 10-point vision and prioritize four essential elements: Healthy Schools, Healthy Housing, Healthy Neighborhoods and Healthy Economy. We set out to support you in advancing these elements and collectively made some progress, faced challenges, and kept learning.

Earlier this year, we looked back and found that we had contributed to a lot of meaningful outcomes for our communities:

»        150 policies, plans or resource allocations advanced to support health and prevention-focused equitable policies and plans

»        40 projects resourced to enable leaders on the ground to advance equitable access to good health

»        250,000 people reached and counting through trainings, presentations, newsletters, videos and social media

»        45 indicators showcased on our data portal to track the state of community-identified priorities to help democratize data

We have also made mistakes and faced challenges. We tried to stay nimble and positive as opportunities slipped away in order to identify new ones.

In early summer, we reviewed our learnings and accomplishments in a partner convening and discussed what you thought was important to achieving healthy, equitable communities looking ahead – for our 2020-2025 planning. We heard loud and clear that we needed to continue to prioritize many aspects of the last strategic plan while growing and adjusting to new and important realities such as the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable residents, the barriers to community engagement in civic decision-making, and the expansion of mental health challenges and disconnection in our communities, especially for our youth.

In the first half of 2020, we will take the learnings from your input and develop a stronger framework and improve our approaches for 2020-2025.  We can already see that we can’t move away from -supporting healthy places, healthy kids/youth and stronger social connections and engagements in our communities. We hope you’ll continue this journey with us into this new decade!

Shireen Malekafzali