The "WHAT" of BHC

Every Californian deserves to live, work and play in places abundant with opportunities for health.  But the cards are stacked against some of our communities.  Low-income communities and communities of color across California face unnecessary obstacles to good health and prosperity.  Many communities, including the 14 Building Healthy Communities sites – are burdened by high concentrations of liquor stores, fast food, and pollution and suffer from a lack of affordable housing, jobs with good wages and benefits, quality schools, safe places to play, and so on. Rather than invest in ways to treat the symptoms of unhealthy living conditions, Building Healthy Communities is cutting to the root of the issue by focusing on the policies and systems that distribute the resources and opportunities essential for health.  

With nothing short of community transformation and health equity – or good health for all regardless of race, income, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability status, or geographic location – as Building Healthy Communities’ point of departure, we presume that our partners will bring forward the best, most creative, and most relevant policy and systems change ideas for how to get there.  Therefore, before Building Healthy Communities’ official launch in 2010, TCE supported community residents and organizations in working alongside public agencies and other institutional stakeholders to put together an action plan to guide their collaborative policy and systems change activities over the next 10 years (to learn more about this process, click here).   Rather than focus the planning on narrowly determined outcomes and a range or pre-determined strategies for getting there, TCE outlined “Four Big Results” and 10 broadly defined outcomes for getting there.   

More than 25,000 individuals were involved across the 14 communities. Each site developed a “short list” of three to five outcomes and associated policy and systems change targets to focus on for the initial phase of the work.  The number and range of strategies being pursued in each site is vast – from salad bars to skate parks.  The statewide Health Happens Here – in Schools, in Neighborhoods, and with Prevention – emerged from the priorities identified in each site. 

In order to provide a structure and a name that captures the essence of the collective vision that emerged across the communities during the planning phase, TCE created the brand name Health Happens Here and clustered common themes under three core campaigns: Health Happens in Schools, Health Happens in Neighborhoods, and Health Happens with Prevention.  Further, within each of the campaigns, and sometimes across the campaign boundaries, TCE identified Twelve Transformative Policy and Systems Change Priorities that are underway to transform local systems and policies to promote community health.  Learn more about the Health Happens Here campaigns and the Twelve Transformative Policy and Systems Change Priorities.

Building Healthy Communities site priority issues inform the statewide Health Happens Here campaigns.  For instance, many BHC sites are tackling school discipline by both focusing on trauma-informed practices that keep kids in school, such as restorative justice, and by eliminating existing policies that disproportionately push out young men and boys of color, namely the use of willful defiance.  Supported by successful policy and school climate reform at the site level, from places as different as Boyle Heights  and Merced, the Health Happens in Schools campaign was able to advance school discipline reform at the state level.  To read more about the school discipline work, click here.  

Taken together, we believe the local and state-level priorities comprise the activities necessary to move the needle toward healthy equity in each of the sites and across the state.  Visit the “Who and Where” of BHC page to find out more about each community and their current policy and system change priorities.  

BHC in the News

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Your zip code shouldn't determine how long you live, but it does. Health Happens Here challenges us to think about health beyond doctor visits and diets. We have the power to make health happen where we live, learn and play.