This initiative was about putting the community in the driver’s seat with the belief that local people are the experts in developing and implementing ideas that help people and families, like themselves, live healthy lives.
Healthy eating was identified as a priority for the community living in the Rural City of Wangaratta given the low rates of fruit & vegetable consumption and high rates of overweight/obesity and diabetes. A review of local data, evidence based strategies and input from key stakeholders informed a two staged community engagement approach to address the issue:
Stage 1) In 2015, eight community members were recruited as ‘community research volunteers’ and provided training and support to conduct 17 ‘kitchen table chats’ with 48 participants to identify: - what ‘eating well’ meant for them, what the enablers and barriers were to eating well and what would make it easier to eat well. There was a focus on engaging with families on low incomes.
Stage 2) The findings from the community research were used as criteria for a small grant program Grow Your Idea that supported community members to apply for funding and manage a project aimed at improving healthy eating. The feedback also resulted in an innovative grant process that was simple, provided support and resources to help the recipients apply and manage their projects successfully.
Approximately 2630 people across the Rural City of Wangaratta were reached through a Grow Your Idea initiative (almost 10% of the population). A review of the project reports and interviews conducted with project participants identified that the projects had:
- increased access to healthy food
- provided new skills and knowledge around healthy eating, and
- increased skills, confidence and feelings of value for community project leaders involved.
We continue to work with our community to improve healthy eating outcomes. This project received the 2017 Australasian IAP2 Highly Commended award in the community development category.
The Grow Your Idea movie showcases some of the community members and projects involved, to watch the movie click here
For more information please email Gateway Health or phone the Gateway Health, Health Promotion team on (03) 5723 2000.Submit your story!