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
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:
- North Carolina’s Eat Smart Move More Campaign
This campaign has compiled a collection of tools that can be used to inventory existing community resources and to promote physical activity and healthy eating. Resources are divided into programs and tools for the community, family, faith, preschool, school, after school, worksite, healthcare, and policy change.
Community Toolbox: Chapter 3 – Developing a Plan for Assessing Community Needs and Resources
Section of the University of Kansas Community Toolbox explaining why it is important to plan for and carry out an assessment of community needs and assets, and how to go about this task.
Obesity Prevention Strategies for Rural Communities
Provides a range of strategies and success stories to assist practitioners in child-serving sectors, including: early care and education, schools, out-of-school time, community initiatives and healthcare.