The overall purpose of this community needs assessment was to explore the perceptions of health and educational needs among youth residing in a rural Georgia community, document existing assets that could be utilized to meet those needs, and to identify socioeconomic barriers and facilitators in health education.
Several health issues were highlighted by the Willow Hill/Portal Georgia community members, including teachers, parents, youth and Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center board members. Some of the health issues identified by youth in the community were low levels of physical activity, obesity, diabetes, lack of healthy food choices, and access to health care services. Including the issues identified by youth, the parents, teachers and board members identified additional health issues in the community such as asthma, hygiene and lack of dental and eye care facilities.
Overall, there is a need for better infrastructure and awareness among community members. Utilizing identified assets, including active community leaders, involved faith-based organizations, commitment of community members, presence of land resources, and commitment to physical activity and sports, could modify the current community landscape.
“The Willow Hill Community Health Assessment: Assessing the Needs of Children in a Former Slave Community,” was published in the Journal of Community Health.
Dr. Moya Alfonso, associate professor of community health behavior and education (CHBE) at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University (JPHCOPH) was lead author. Ms. Gayle Jackson and Mr. Alvin Jackson of the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center, Inc., Ms. DeShannon Hardy and Ms. Akrati Gupta, DrPH in CHBE students at JPHCOPH were co-authors.