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June 25, 2009

Community Residents are the Key for Community Change

Emilia, a community member from San Diego, gets involved in Advocacy!

By Ruth Manzano

Emilia, a community member from San Diego, gets involved in Advocacy!

Community involvement is just a part of life for Emilia from San Diego California. It is also just a part of her daily chores and activities. She is involved in everything that is related to improving the environment and educational activities of her children and family. It was never like that when she immigrated to this country. She believed that community involvement was out of her reach due to language barriers and cultural issues. Unable to understand the community and educational structure of a new country, she did not know she could get involved. When she was asked to advocate for health issues, Emilia did not even know what advocacy was and believed it was for professionals only. This is a common response that we at CANFIT hear over and over during our advocacy /nutritional 101 trainings. Emilia has now stated that she understands how advocacy can impact change in local communities. She is presently involved because she knows she can make a difference in her community. Emilia stated “We are voices for change". Community members take great pride when they see improvements in their communities, but are not familiar using the word advocacy and many times are unable to relate to their community work despite doing the work. During CANFIT trainings, we simplify our teaching methods to insure that we are culturally and community appropriate by using interactive activities, role playing, and visuals to connect advocacy and nutrition/physical activity as a unit. Providing community appropriate Advocacy trainings is vital to improve community after school environments and local sustainability of community changes.Trained participants have mentioned that community ownership and change needs to start with community residents, not with community outsiders. Residents just need basic skills and the tools to go forward. CANFIT Advocacy 101 is modified and revised for each community as needed. We realize that we cannot use a cookie cutter model for each community, as each is unique and has different needs. Revising our training has benefited many in different levels of involvement and participation. Learn more about CANFIT Trainings and Workshops CANFIT Training with Ruth Manzano Community involvement in Advocacy and health basically means that communities take responsibility for their own health through: • Individual empowerment by participating in educational trainings. • Building capacity to empower communities to take social responsibilities. • Willing to adopt and change behaviors to prevent health problems. • Identify, participate, and improve community environments. • Effective participation in community change activities. • Taking the lead in local activities. • Contributing to the design, implementation, and monitoring of community activities. When community members accept to participate in trainings, this is a great indicator that they are willing to be part of the change. The following are examples of how previously trained participants have been able to use these training skills in the following activities: • City council meetings • Enact • Making phone calls to city officials • Community presentations Just remember that trainings need to be provided with community appropriate tools and materials to support community involvement. Empowering by education can lead to change. Community residents are the key for community change! How are local community residents making changes in your community? What would you like to see change Subscribe to the CANFIT Blog Join the CANFIT network to stay updated on new events, receive the CANFIT e-newsletter, and get free access to nutrition and physical activity resources.


2 reader comments on Community Residents are the Key for Community Change.

Are there advocacy materials for youth trainings?

Thankyou this helps - the members of my neighborhood in Broderick,West Sacramento are trying to get the voices of the community together to increase the support for a farmer’s market in our area-

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