Waterville is the only SCALE community in Maine! Waterville was chosen among 200 applicants to participate as one of 20 Pacesetter communities in the USA. Waterville is in the first wave of a bold plan to reach 1000 communities and to improve 100 million lives by 2020. The national spotlight is on Waterville and we deserve this positive attention. Waterville has many characteristics that make it an emerging Bright Spot.
What is SCALE? – “Spreading Community Accelerators through Learning and Evaluation” is a national initiative to speed up the improvement of well-being for all. Funded by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and in partnership with other national organizations, SCALE communities will boost their capacity for heaithy change and spread community-driven approaches across the country.
Waterville is poised for transformation. Dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals are collaborating to create a Culture of Health, going upstream to build bridges from poverty to prosperity. We have an excellent chance of succeeding thanks to our partners: Waterville Main Street, Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, Family Violence Project, Kennebec Behavioral Health, the City of Waterville, Inland Hospital, MaineGeneral and many others. Healthy Waterville is also supported in part by the Maine Health Access Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Maine Initiatives, and the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation.
How will Waterville create a Culture of Health? Since 1988, Healthy Northern Kennebec has been solving health problems by strengthening partnerships among health, education, faith community, government, social service and business organizations. The Healthy Waterville initiative engages diverse individuals from the neighborhoods most affected by poverty whose voices are not usually heard. Together, we’ll plan and make decisions about improving health where people live, learn, work and play.
In 2014, Healthy Waterville convened 11 focus groups, including 83 individuals. We listened to people living in poverty, with low or no income, who receive services such as general assistance, homeless shelter and HeadStart. People who have been marginalized were empowered to share their views about what is working well to help the community be healthy, and what is in the way.
People desire healthy food, safe places to walk, and affordable activities for children, but these things seem unattainable. For example, every focus group recognized the health benefits of the downtown Farmer’s Market, however most said that the produce was too expensive and “not for us.” People needing food were pleased to find more fresh vegetables in the food bank, but many felt discouraged by paperwork, long lines and judgment.
In 2015-2016, Healthy Waterville is developing an Improvement Team and a plan to use our community’s assets to support healthy eating for everyone. In May, 45 diverse citizens gathered for dinner and a broader conversation about community health. Over the summer, partners visited the Waterville Food Bank and Soup Kitchen to listen and learn. In August, we celebrated family’s gifts with the South End Neighborhood Association. People of Waterville are sharing their strengths and acting together to create a healthier community for all.
Healthy Northern Kennebec was formed in 1988 with the goal of identifying local health problems and working collaboratively with community agencies, government and local citizens toward solutions. The Healthy Northern Kennebec coalition is one of 27 local Healthy Maine Partnerships that form Maine’s public health system. Local public health priorities are preventing domestic violence, substance abuse, and tobacco use, and promoting healthy eating and active living, www.healthynorthernkennebec.org.