Successful programs address the needs and wants of the community. The best way to find out what a community needs and what it wants is to conduct a community assessment. By following the community assessment process outlined in Moving to the Future: Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Planning (Moving to the Future), you can develop programs and services that address the nutrition and physical activity needs and wants of your community making it a healthier place to live. There are multiple ways to break down the process of conducting a community assessment. In Moving to the Future, community assessment is organized into three steps.
- Define Community
- Gather and Analyze Information
- Summarize and Report Information
The emphasis in this section is on the need to actually do this task including having a discussion with your partners about how to define community. The Community Definition worksheet helps users think about the target audience and the broader community that interacts and influences that audience.
Gather and Analyze Information
This section includes worksheets and tip sheets to help you collect community data, community opinion, community resources and assets, and information on the community’s policies and environment. This is the point where you learn things like the percentage of adults in your community who do the recommended amount of physical activity, whether community leaders think healthy eating is important or not, what other nutrition and physical activity services are available to the community, and how the community environment encourages and discourages healthy eating and physical activity. The worksheets in this section also help you interpret all the facts, figures, opinions, and other information that you collect.
Summarize and Report Information
In this step you consider the data and information gathered in step two. The worksheets include guidance on reporting community assessment results to different audiences such as a board of health, a Rotary club, or in a grant application. At this point you are not prioritizing health issues, just summarizing and reporting what you learned. Guidance on how to prioritize is provided in the next chapter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conducting a Community Assessment