Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities Toolkit

The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created this toolkit from the Bright Futures for Women’s Health and Wellness Initiative for women who want to improve their physical health. The Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities toolkit provides tips on planning wellness events involving physical activity and healthy eating. This toolkit is a useful resource for staff, parents, and health care providers.


See PDF version: Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities Toolkit [PDF, 3.6MB]

Welcome to the Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities Toolkit for Physical Activity and Healthy Eating! This toolkit from the Bright Futures for Women’s Health and Wellness (BFWHW) Initiative is for women who want to improve the health of their communities. Women like you can take action to help people:

  • Be more physically active
  • Eat healthier

You can start by planning a physical activity or healthy eating event for your community. You DO NOT need special training to start a community activity. What you DO need is enthusiasm and the drive to make a difference in your community.

The Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities Toolkit is meant to be fun and useful. It will help you plan, carry out, and evaluate a physical activity and/or healthy eating event. The toolkit provides 10 Building Blocks—ideas and tools to help you. Each building block starts with a question to get you thinking about the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of planning a community activity. You can read the toolkit from front to back or one section at a time—however it best suits your needs.

The toolkit also includes real-life stories from women who took action in their communities to get people moving and eating healthier. Join other women across the Nation to boost physical activity and healthy eating in their communities! Then tell BFWHW about your activity, using the form at the end of this toolkit. You CAN make a difference!

Physical activity and healthy eating are important because they:

  • Promote good health
  • Lower the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis (bone loss)
  • Help to control weight
  • Give you energy and make you feel good
  • Help to build healthy bones and keep them strong

Success Story: Sisters in Motion

“I used to exchange clothes with my girlfriends at a local program, and I found that a lot of my clothes were going to the ‘too small’ pile. When I had to give up my favorite brown suit, I decided that there would be no more giving away clothes that didn’t fit. Instead, it was time to start an exercise plan. My friends and I borrowed a fun exercise tape, cleared out the furniture in my living room a few times a week, and started Sisters in Motion!

We had so much fun that we wanted to ask other women to join us. So we came up with a program that was exciting and appealing. We invited three good-looking, single men to teach us different kinds of exercise. We got the okay from a local community clinic to hold a ‘Brothers Working Bodies’ physical fitness class. We knew these men were popular in the community, but we didn’t expect the response we got. People called, asking about what exercise clothes to wear, and on the first day of class, 80 women showed up!

We built a solid group with these women. Now we have all sorts of programs to keep us healthy—a walking group; a monthly support group; classes in vegetarian cooking (with no meat); and line, salsa, and belly dancing. We also took on the Black Women for Wellness 100-day challenge—walking 1 mile a day for 100 days.

To reach even more women, we found funding through Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Excellence in Women’s Health. This helped us grow into a more organized program.

When we started, the most important thing we did was to focus on ourselves. We found our needs were the same as the community’s needs. We planned activities to help make lasting changes in our lives, not just quick fixes. We went from dealing with our own weight gain to a program of health and well-being through physical fitness, healthy food, friendship, and fun.” Janette F., 40s—Los Angeles, California   

Healthy Women Build Healthy Communities Toolkit: For Physical Activity and Healthy Eating. Bright Futures for Women’s Health and Wellness. HHS/HRSA/OWH. n.d. English. [PDF, 3.61MB].

Last Reviewed: January 2015

Last Updated: January 16, 2015