What is a Community Health Network?
Island Health’s Community Health Networks (CHNs) bring together multiple partners to improve community health and wellness by catalyzing collective action to address locally prioritized social determinants of health and modifiable risk factors in a way that no one group or sector could alone. Health Networks facilitate dialogue and understanding amongst citizens and stakeholders, build partnerships and capacity, share ideas and resources, and create innovative solutions that impact the social determinants of health and work towards sustainable healthy communities. CHNs are grounded in research, and facilitate collaboration, action and connections for good health in our communities. Together stakeholders focus on prevention, wellness and health promotion, leveraging existing resources, building on community strengths and assets, generating system change and co-creating equitable and health promoting policies, programs, infrastructure and amenities.
Oceanside Health & Wellness Network
In 2013, the members of the "Perfect Storm" group, a grass roots community based organization who held a vision for bringing a Health Centre to Oceanside, formed the first Community Health Network in the region - the Oceanside Community Health and Wellness Network. The Network had many successful initiatives including establishing the Oceanside Health Centre in Parksville. Ongoing today, is the First 2000 Days and Beyond collective impact project that focuses on a collective community response to food security, early years stimulation and protection from trauma as an approach to moving the needle on improving Early Development Instrument Scores for Oceanside children. The OHWN operated in the area defined by School District 69.
Naut'sa mawt Oceanside Wellness Network
In 2020, community members in the Greater Nanaimo area created the Nanaimo Community Wellness Network. This network evolved slowly during the pandemic, focusing on building strong relationships and a framework for the Network that had at it's core a focus on decolonization, equity, diversity and inclusion.
In 2022, the Network was gifted the name Naut'sa mawt - meaning "journeying together as one" by the Snuneymuxw Elders and the name was changed to the Naut'sa Mawt Community Wellness Network. Our name is a gift that we hold in high regard as a reflection of our goal to walk alongside our Indigenous community partners to create stronger upstream approaches to community wellness.
2023 saw our two Networks undergoing many changes. As we began moving forward following the global pandemic we recognized that to become the most resilient communities possible, we needed to streamline our processes and build greater capacity for regional collective efforts. The two networks merged to form the Naut'sa Mawt Oceanside Wellness Network (NOW Network). Our Community Health Network Coordinating Circle of Partners merged to provide region wide stewardship to community-championed change. Our Action Tables will continue to focus on specific geographically based needs, as required.
The Network has a full time coordinator. The contract manager for the Network is the United Way Central Vancouver Island. Funding for the coordination is provided by Island Health. Our name has changed but our goal to create community, grass roots led change to create healthy communities remains the same.