Hearing silenced voices: developing community with an advisory committee

This article focuses on the challenge and effects of adhering to community participation as a principle of community development and the related issue of reflecting diverse representation in prevention and health promotion planning. As a requirement of funding agencies, the consequences of upholding these principles in light of the resources made available are explored. Information is drawn from a case study of an advisory committee with diverse membership. A participatory evaluation of this committee illuminates the difficulties encountered when a community agency initiated a health promotion project to address the needs of women who are non-verbal and at risk of sexual assault. Suggestions are made as to how these difficulties may be overcome. The advisory committee is a common means for community development but also has the potential to be a model for increased communication and understanding.