Growing Up Healthy works to increase the level of social connectedness experienced by marginalized families in Rice County.
Established to address the social factors influencing the health of marginalized families in Rice County, Growing Up Healthy is a coalition of organizations and agencies. GUH grew out of a community dialogue series conducted in 2007 that revealed marginalized families' needs in raising children in a happy and healthy way. Rather than a lack of services, we found a disconnect between the people needing to access those services and the decision makers shaping the system.
GUH entered the organizational scene as a coalition with a different approach that is based on building relationships of mutual respect. This approach is changing the culture in two cities by building relationships within communities, among service providers, and across these differing worlds. As a result, people who are providing services have begun to rethink how they need to listen to the people they are serving and the people who are clients have gained a new understanding of resources available to them and of the ways that they can affect change in their own lives.
The mission of Growing Up Healthy is to work with partner organizations and immigrant and refugee families to transform communities through cultivating neighborhood leadership, fostering social connectedness, and collectively advocating for change within neighborhoods and systems.
Our collaboration is active on three interwoven levels: neighborhood organizing (we support five teams of neighborhood leaders); community education (we work intensively with city residents and both Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges); and systems change (we have an active coalition of over 20 non-profit and government entities). All three of these levels interact to create our unique approach to improving the lives of marginalized families in Rice County by providing linkages and working on policy reform to improve service delivery.