Crafting a Community Engagement Strategy for Stress Health

Stress Health, a movement building campaign led by the Center for Youth Wellness, is raising awareness of the health effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress among parents, caregivers, pediatricians, and educators. Equipping communities to identify and mitigate the impacts of ACEs and toxic stress will lead to improved physical and mental health for all.

About the project

The CYW team sought to develop a community engagement strategy that made the most of Stress Health’s rich content and the campaign’s national reach, without replicating existing resources available to families, pediatricians, and educators.

The Question

How can the Stress Health campaign reach and support parents?

The Center for Youth Wellness has an ambitious goal to raise awareness of the health impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress across the country. As part of this movement, the Stress Health team sought to identify strategies to build parents’ awareness and capacity to address the impact of ACEs and toxic stress, both for themselves and their children.

Recognizing that the small central staff of CYW wouldn’t reach this ambitious goal alone, the Stress Health community campaign model would have to be flexible and replicable, so that other partners could implement the strategies independently.

The “trusted messenger” model used by many public health and parent education initiatives was of particular interest to CYW, as it is scalable and builds on parents’ relationships with educators, doctors, faith leaders, local businesspeople, and fellow parents.

The Stress Health campaign is part of a bourgeoning movement focused on social-emotional wellness for parents and children. It was important to find the unique role that Stress Health could play, rather than replicating existing efforts.

The Process

A community-driven discovery and design approach

Public Profit implemented a three-part process to support the Stress Health campaign:

  • A field scan to understand the reach of similar initiatives for parents and children, and to understand the features of successful trusted messenger initiatives.
  • A design studio that engaged parents, community members, and nonprofit professionals in an examination of different potential program models for the Stress Health campaign.
  • A Theory of Action for Stress Health that outlined the unique assets of the Stress Health campaign, the key components of the proposed community model, and anticipated benefits for participating parents and children.

The Outcome

A network of community partnerships and Campaign Guide

The Center for Youth Wellness is working with partners in the health and education fields to prototype community engagement strategies using the principles identified in the Theory of Action, with the goal of sharing the program materials broadly.

Public Profit and CYW developed a guide that outlines the steps of the discovery and design process based on our experiences in Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco and in the West Fresno neighborhood of Fresno, California. The guide will be shared with other communities interested in launching their own community engagement initiative.

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