Why Connect?

Why become part of the VIVA Connects Community?

We all work hard to improve our communities. We want them to be places that foster health and well-being rather than places in which it can be difficult to make healthy choices. VIVA Connects is a network of communities and other partners who have  chosen to share evidence-based information and resources pertaining to increasing physical activity in rural communities across New Mexico and to support each other in achieving their goals.

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What can the VIVA Connects Network provide to my community?

If you join the network, you will gain access to the strategies, ideas, contacts, examples, lessons learned, and resources from the UNM PRC, our community expert panel, and other VIVA Connects Action Communities. The UNM PRC has a multidisciplinary team with skills in project evaluation, using GIS maps, communication, community engagement and outreach, health education, and more. We also communicate daily with other VIVA Connects Action Communities so that you can learn from them and share your experiences. In addition, the network has members who are networking in a particular community but who have resources or expertise to share within VIVA Connects. They include the New Mexico Department of Health, County Health Councils, the US Forest Service, and various nonprofit organizations. VIVA Connects has formal and informal and in-person and web-based means for providing support, including webinars, meetings, workshops, conference calls, online modules, online forums, and a listserv.

Resources of a large network

Being a VIVA Connects Action Community or network member  allows you  to brand your program and receive recognition for your work throughout New Mexico and even nationally level. It also provides an opportunity to build momentum readily through efforts and activities done with other VIVA Connect members, such as network-wide celebrations for National Trails Day. Finally, your community and its progress will be featured on our website.

Help in forming alliances and building community support

We can connect you with other successful coalitions and alliances that will share strategies that have been effective at forming and maintaining community coalitions, promoting places and programs to encouraging members of your community to become more physically active, and helping you to determine future directions for your programs.

Community assessments

Our team can provide tools and technical assistance to help you assess the status of various features of your community, such as its walkability. We will also assist you in identifying the latest evidence on strategies to increase physical activity that you may not have considered.

Strategic planning and goal development

We can work with your coalition to identify short, medium, and long-term goals for your community and then help you design a “logic model” to serve as  a road map for your projects.

Evaluation

You will have access to evaluation professionals, who can recommend the best ways to measure the outcomes you are trying to achieve and teach you how to use evaluation tools.

Information on funding

We can share information on grants and other funding opportunities and facilitate connections with funding agencies and with experts who can help you to prepare grant applications.

Technical assistance in implementing specific evidence-based strategies

Technical assistance in implementing specific evidence-based strategies

Community-wide campaigns

The VIVA team and panel of experts can share approaches, lessons learned, and technical assistance regarding messaging, campaign design, resources, communication channels, and other necessary elements of a successful community-wide campaign. Such a campaign will help to increase community awareness of, and involvement in, your efforts.

Community and street-scale design and built environment changes

We can share tips on how to work most effectively with state and local government agencies and land managers to navigate the legal and policy processes  required to make large changes such as improving sidewalks, instituting traffic-calming measures, and accessing public lands for new hiking and walking trails.

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Social Support

We can help you gain insight from other communities’ efforts—successful and not—to increase physical activity through social-support activities such as walking groups and events

Developing Places to be Physically Active

We can provide information on working with recreation professionals to plan and build trails, improve your community’s park, and involve your local schools in creating and enhancing other places for physical activity in your community. Learn how to negotiate joint use agreements to increase venues for physical activity.

Tularosa Residents and interested parties have been meeting since June in a newly founded group, “Tulie Trails Planning Committee.” This idea started with a visit from the VIVA Communities Initiative of UNM’s Prevention Research Center. Recently, Tulie Trails has drafted goals which are currently under review for formalization. The goals focus on both short-term and long-term ideas, as well as long-range and in-town connectivity.