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Identifying Assets and Needs

The first step in planning a rural obesity prevention program is conducting a needs assessment. A needs assessment helps to identify available resources and appropriate plans for implementing them. For more information, see Conducting a Needs Assessment in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Another approach for identifying existing resources is asset mapping. Asset mapping is the process of cataloging resources such as individuals’ skill sets, organizational resources, physical spaces, institutions, associations, and elements of the local economy. Asset mapping can help to:

  • Identify community assets and strengths
  • Ensure the intervention’s relevance to community needs
  • Obtain buy-in from the community
  • Avoid duplication of existing efforts
  • Identify creative opportunities to support healthy eating and physical activity

There is no single approach to preparing a community asset map. The convening organization may prepare and present a draft asset map to the members of the community network. Alternatively, all partner organizations may be involved in the process of asset mapping. Figure 2-1 provides a partial example of a map that can be used to link a planned program to community assets.

Figure 2-1: A Sample Community Asset Map

Examples of Community Assets that Might be Included in an Asset Map

Source: Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization’s Capacity
Kretzmann, J. & McKnight, J.; Asset-Based Community Development Institute, School of Education and Social Policy; Northwestern University, 2005

A wide range of resources exist to help communities assess barriers to healthy eating and physical activity, as well assets to help overcome them. These resources are excellent guides for communities: