Alaska Wellness Coalition envisions communities throughout Alaska where individuals thrive in an environment that supports healthy choices.
The Alaska Wellness Coalition works collectively to improve the health and wellness of all Alaskans. The Coalition networks local and regional health and wellness alliances through information sharing of state and local data, evidence-based programming, best practices, strategic prevention, current health trends, funding opportunities, and statewide advocacy for health promotion.
Alaska Wellness Coalition’s primary current initiative is a statewide media campaign to reduce underage alcohol use. The media campaign employs a strengths-based approach utilizing the evidence-based Positive Community Norms (PCN) model. Working with communities and the data that has been reported, the Coalition will share positive messages about our great land and its people to promote healthy youth behaviors.
- Abundance. It is crucial to approach coalition work with a perspective of abundance. Too often there is a sense that ideas and resources are a “zero sum game” and that if resources are devoted to one thing then something else loses out. Through a theory of abundance, the focus is on vision, mission, and values first. The buy-in from individuals, agencies, and communities is tied to the strength of ideas and resources are tied to community buy-in.
- The Positive. There is value in the positive. It does not mean we are pollyanna. However, if we start our discussions solely from the point of the “misery index” of what is wrong with our communities, then we overlook the strengths of our communities and of individuals. Alaska Wellness Coalition has rooted itself in the Positive Community Norms literature and body of work as well as that of the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets. Both protective and risk factors play a role in moving the Coalition’s vision forward.
- Balance. There is a lot to get done. For every Alaska Wellness Coalition member coalition and the individuals that drive the mission forward, the work of Alaska Wellness Coalition is the “thing they are doing in addition to everything else they are doing.” Balance is important for our individual lives, if we are to be healthy and successful with our families, communities, and careers. The same is true for our coalition work at the community level and with Alaska Wellness Coalition at the statewide level. Our work needs to be informed, focused, inclusive, and practical in the context of time, resources, and readiness.
- Trust. There is a lot to get done. Since everyone cannot be involved in everything, trust is important. Any organizational structure that is adopted by the Coalition must rely on strong working relationships among members coalitions and their representatives. Committees and workgroups will ideally have 5 – 8 members that will spend time “in the weeds” researching, thinking through, discussing, and formulating key solutions for the Coalition as a whole. Other committees/workgroups and the larger Coalition membership will need to find a path to honor the hard work of these groups, as these groups may also need to honor the wisdom of the larger group, if they have to “go back to the drawing board” on occasion when facing difficult issues and questions. Coalition work is messy, but it takes all of us.
- Open Dialogue. Communication is key. Given the challenges of time, distance, geography, and culture, communication is a challenge. We can only be in the same room together on rare occasions. Technology has improved to allow for other methods of communication, information sharing, and the exchange of ideas. Many Coalition members also don’t want to be in the middle of every conversation. The Coalition strives to make communication efficient enough to allow individual members to robustly focus on areas of interest and screen out conversations and information they find less relevant to their work and role with Alaska Wellness Coalition.
- Consensus. General agreement on decisions, without objection is preferred approach to decision making. It is important to honor differences of perspective within Alaska Wellness Coalition and its member coalitions and communities. The Coalition strives to move forward together in an inclusive manner. This does not rule out the use of voting, when necessary.
- Innovation. The work of a coalition is both iterative and incremental. Alaska Wellness Coalition is in development. We are learning as we move forward more and more about what it means to be a coalition, how best to work together, and how best to achieve vision and mission. Every effort is builds on the efforts before. The adoption of the Statewide Underage Drinking Prevention Media Campaign as a first focus of Alaska Wellness Coalition has been the crucible in which the Coalition has learned many things. It is the beginning. Alaska Wellness Coalition has far more potential than just focusing on underage drinking prevention alone. The potential work of the Coalition has far greater reach.
- Celebration. We must celebrate our success. It is too easy to get caught up in the detail of current work and particular efforts or tasks that have not worked well. Codifying accomplishments though publications like Alaska Wellness Coalition Annual Reports are an important part of telling the Coalition’s story and helping to drive vision and mission forward.