In February 2008, Montana Rural Health Initiative (RHI) partners convened a meeting of stakeholders including community members, academics, local government officials, health care providers, public health workers, Tribal Health Department representatives and nonprofit organizations among others to discuss the potential for a coordinated, collaborative approach to prevention and wellness in Montana. During the day and a half session, community leaders and experts developed a strategy to improve health in Montana by linking community health initiatives to each other as well as to the expertise that already exists in the state.
The core recommendation of the RHI stakeholder meeting was to “create a network of health experts, programs, and initiatives across Montana.”
The Rural Health Initiative engages partners to share ideas and expertise and supports communities in improving health while stimulating a higher level of wellness across the state.
Our vision is to create a dynamic network linking prevention and community-based wellness programs throughout Montana and to stimulate a higher level of wellness across the state. We achieve this by:
I. Creating and maintaining an interactive website that includes:
- Details of local prevention and community-based wellness programs
- Calendar of events
- Database of experienced individuals willing to offer advice and assistance
- Links to state and national prevention and wellness resources
II. Encouraging networking and collaboration by communicating with RHI website members via a listserv and an e-newsletter
III. Strengthening local efforts to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, create prevention focused communities by linking the expertise of Montanans to communities in need of assistance, and consider mechanisms to jump start new programs while supporting ongoing local prevention and wellness programs
IV. Providing educational programs, including Webinars, designed to increase the capacity of local communities to provide prevention and wellness programs.