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Community Wellness pillars

In 2012 the W.K Kellogg Foundation funded Samueli Institute to develop a fresh approach to community wellness that could serve as a scalable model for communities across the country. The end goal was simple: reverse the trend of declining health impacting multiple demographics and income levels across the U.S. as documented in the Institute of Medicine study, Shorter Lives, Poorer Health.

Samueli Institute began by convening stakeholders from communities, as well as activists, academics and policymakers to probe the process fostering wellness. The working group adapted a framework Samueli Institute built for the military called Total Force Fitness to this effort.

What Samueli Institute learned in that initial meeting was that frameworks were not the core need nor at the heart of the process. Indeed, many frameworks had been developed and they usually left out some of the most important social and historical causes of illness and wellness. What was needed was a much more basic model of human flourishing. Even more important than any model was fostering a process in which the strengths of a community were tapped and a deep dialogue was created across all stakeholders. Once this process was developed the communities began to create their own wellness.

Samueli Institute worked with communities in Detroit, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta. Each was offered an opportunity to receive assistance in a community wellness improvement project of their choice. In addition, the Institute assembled a Council of Elders of experienced community health and wellness experts to provide guidance and mentoring. The results were showcased among the participants and with policymakers and investors at the Well Community Summit on April 9-10, 2015.

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