Well Connected Communities in Georgia

Written by Dr. Courtney Brown and Dr. Jenna Daniel

Reprinted with permission. Click here to read the full Georgia 4-H Annual Report.

Well Connected Communities is an effort to cultivate wellness across the country. In partnership with National 4-H Council, Colquitt, Calhoun, and Washington counties are working to remove barriers and create communities where healthy choices are easy and available to all. The Well Connected Communities Initiative is supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy
dedicated solely to health.

Across the state, UGA Extension professionals work every day to provide research-based knowledge to community members, and connectivity among community partners.

Through this partnership, we are working to ensure our communities have access to local data that helps identify gaps and challenges to health and wellness, local policies that encourage healthy living, engagement from all sectors of public and private industry and government to help solve pressing issues, and networks of people and youth that want to make a difference.

Since January of 2018, Colquitt, Calhoun, and Washington counties have worked to establish, expand, and engage members of their community in a health coalition. These coalitions are comprised of individuals from multiple sectors and collaborate to provide perspective, assess needs, and expand resources in the communities in which they serve.

This initiative began in Georgia in 2018, as Georgia participated in Wave 1 as a self-funded participant in the Well Connected Communities initiative. During Wave 1, nearly $10,000 in support from National 4-H Council was leveraged for travel,
professional development, training, multi-county collaboration, and national meetings. Now in Wave 2, Georgia is receiving funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through National 4-H Council to continue this important work.

Kathryn Holland, Colquitt County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, says, “Well Connected Communities is inspiring this community to identify their own wellness priorities and empowering them, especially youth members, to be the solution.
It is beautiful to see us come together across age, race, class, education, religion, political views, and more to focus on a goal and serve with our strengths. This coalition and community is comprised of amazing people!”

Washington County coalition member Conni Fennell-Burley of the Archway Partnership emphasizes the importance of Well Connected Communities, “As health has become a laser focused topic in all of our communities, Washington County Well-Connected Communities has been in direct alignment with needs and priorities as they have arisen. Through community engagement with adults and youth, Well Connected Communities has the ability to impact decisions
that are made regarding the health, both physically and mentally, of our citizens.”

Shanda Ashley, Calhoun County 4-H Agent, reflects on the importance of youth involvement in the Well Connected Communities initiative, “Well Connected Communities has brought a positive youth-adult partnership component to our
existing health coalition. This has not only strengthened our coalition, but given the community as a whole more insight from everyone’s (adults and youth) perspective for creating a “Healthier Together Calhoun.” Alone we can do so little, but TOGETHER we can do so MUCH MORE!”