The advancement of a community center for Missoula relies heavily on community input and community support. Over 150 citizens participated in the citywide Celebrate 2000 forums that planted the seed for a community center. Over time, many individuals and organizations have come forward to advance and refine the concept. Our collective idea of what a community center is and can be continues to evolve, but the need has never faltered.
Missoula’s Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity is a community hub supporting social, emotional, and physical health. The National Academies consensus report Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity profiled nine communities that are working to advance health equity by addressing the social determinants of health. The report highlighted three principles that lead to successful community action, which include:
Making healthy equity a shared vision and value
Increasing capacity in communities
Working across sectors
Missoula’s community center addresses these principles in two key ways:
Leverage and engage existing organizations and individuals in developing and delivering programming. It is through these interactions that we advance a shared community vision based on community values. With an inter-disciplinary approach, we can identify and begin to break down barriers between various sectors in the community.
Engage with neighborhoods to identify neighborhood locations that can serve local needs and provide opportunities that compliment or expand community program offerings. A clearly-defined relationship between neighborhoods and our community center can only strengthen communication and ensure we can advance the physical and social health of the community.
When we pool resources and focus on needs and achieving equity in services, we are a better and stronger community.
Missoula’s Parks and Recreation is working with Lowell School to providing the coordination of program services and management to maximize use of identified spaces (gym, auditorium, for example) during non-academic hours. This is a collaboration between Lowell Elementary School PTA, North Missoula Community Development Corporation, The Food Bank, Partnership Health Center, City-County Health Department Health Equity programs, United Way, Zero to Five Missoula County, Garden City Harvest, Flagship Program, Missoula County Public Library, Boys & Girls Club, NS/WS Neighborhood, and several others.
Missoula Parks and Recreation Base Camp is where kids ages 5 and up can be outdoors and active with the epic adventures. The program currently utilizes the former public library building in downtown Missoula. As the former public library building is repurposed Parks and Recreation plans to host Base Camp year-around at the community center. The program includes art and science-based activities with partners like the Insectarium, Clay Studio Missoula and more. There is time for homework and access to computers for online work. Snacks are provided.