The Circle of Health© STORY

In 1995, a group of community and health professionals came together to explore the idea of an integrated and inclusive health promotion model. There was confusion on how to promote health because there was not a shared definition of health promotion. The main question posed at the beginning of the meeting was “What does health promotion mean to you?” They were encouraged to get creative and explore many different models already in existence.

As discussions happened, the lack of explicitly stated values in current models became a key area of focus. It was decided that that was the key component they wanted to ensure was included moving forward. Talk of having a three dimensional component to the framework came into play. It was important to have something tangible.

In the end, through a very collaborative process, they decided to combine models and take the best of what was available, while adding in explicit values.

In the months following the discussion, another smaller group got together to solidify the findings and create a tool with the following objectives: a framework that would create a common and shared understanding of health promotion, be inclusive (so everyone could see that they play a role in health promotion), and be useful in planning (included goals, objectives, purposes).

Once that was decided, the what, how, why, was needed. They got to work in groups, each group focusing on an aspect of the model. In a creative fashion, they were all encouraged to draw their ideas. During a break in the brainstorming, Patsy Beattie-Huggan got inspiration from the Compass Rose to form the design. In a serendipitous turn of events, when everyone came back from their groups to combine their ideas, all of the ideas included elements from the compass rose.

The Circle of Health© was launched as a moveable card stock tool with rings that could be aligned for exploration of the concepts, in June 1996 at a conference hosted by the PEI Women’s Network. Copyright was assigned to the PEI Health and Community Services Agency, Government of PEI. The final product was launched some months later and has been vetted by many user groups including the People First, the Self-help Network, and Aboriginal groups. To this day, the Circle of Health© is being used in many places around the world as a tool to create stronger, healthier communities. From Serbia, to Brazil, to Germany, to Canada, the Circle of Health© is making a difference and helping change makers solve complex issues and create sustainable solutions to multifaceted problems.