Community wellbeing is shaped by a wide variety of conditions and systems in which individuals and communities are born, grow, work, live, and age.

Wellbeing Waterloo Region is a community-led initiative working together across sectors to improve wellbeing. We gathered community input on the vision, priorities, and actions to better wellbeing in Waterloo Region, and developed our wellbeing plan in October 2017.

Waterloo Region is a community that has a number of community/organizational partnerships that have made significant progress towards dealing with complex issues of community wellness.

Over the past several years there have been many conversations within these partnerships that have identified the urgency to collaborate across sectors to advance a more integrated, holistic approach to community wellbeing, and to create solutions with impact.

Through Wellbeing Waterloo Region, the community has addressed collective priorities that will improve community wellness so that everyone in our community is able to thrive.

Big Ideas

The three Big Ideas that have been identified as priority areas for Wellbeing Waterloo Region are:

  • Social Inclusion
  • Healthy Children and Youth
  • Affordable Housing

Our approach

We began our work using the Connected Communities Approach for community development.

The Connected Communities Approach: What is it and Why it Matters (PDF report)

Our early logic model (2016-2017)

We identified our goals and made a plan to create new, significant and impactful solutions that would improve community wellness.

Wellbeing Waterloo Region Exploratory and Development Vision (PDF table)

Our journey to date (2018)

Wellbeing Waterloo Region continues to grow and adapt along with the needs of our community. Read more about our journey to date in our Backgrounder report.

Backgrounder: Our Journey to Date (PDF report)

Our next steps (2019)

In 2019, Wellbeing Waterloo Region moved into its new enabling structure. The initiative’s eight new Working Groups will help us work better together to both leverage local assets and mobilize for collective action in the three Big Idea areas.

There are many ways to get involved in our work. Check out our Calendar and Subscription List to get started.


Social Determinants of Health

A common idea that was identified by numerous stakeholders early on in the initiative was to adopt a broad framework to anchor this work. The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) were seen as the appropriate framework to use as they define the multi-dimensional factors that connect and interact to impact community wellbeing. The SDOH are the living conditions that surround us. They control our health in ways that not even the best health care systems or healthy choices can. They are bigger than our genetics and often affect a large group of people. Wellbeing Waterloo Region believes we need to work together as a community to recognize, address and solve the SDOH in order to improve community wellbeing.

A video explaining the social determinants of health.

Collective Impact

A Collective Impact approach was adopted to develop Wellbeing Waterloo Region as it meets many of the needs identified from the community discussions held over the past several years.

Collective Impact provides a structured approach to work on complex issues, and achieve significant and lasting social change through multiple sectors coming together on a common agenda, shared measurement, and alignment of effort. The approach is premised on the belief that no single policy, government department, organization or program alone can solve the increasingly complex social problems we face as a society.

Consistent and open communication and building trust amongst stakeholders is integral throughout the Collective Impact process. John Kania and Mark Kramer identified five key conditions for a successful Collective Impact approach, which have been incorporated into Wellbeing Waterloo Region’s processes.

Watch the video on Collective Impact on FSG Consulting’s website.

The following graphic shows the conditions of collective impact:

Discovery Meetings (2016)

Discovery meetings with collaboratives, area municipalities, and other community stakeholders involved in Wellbeing Waterloo Region took place from July – September 2016.  The purpose of the meetings was to create awareness about Wellbeing Waterloo Region (formally the Community Wellness Initiative) and gather feedback to inform the overall process and structure of the initiative.

 To review a summary of the feedback collected, read the Summary of Discovery Meetings (PDF).