The Willow Hill Community Health Assessment: Assessing the Needs of Children in a Former Slave Community

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Journal of Community Health




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. A sequential mixed method design was used. Intercept surveys were conducted followed by individual, key informant interviews and a focus group. Survey data was entered into an Excel spreadsheet and SPSS for analysis and descriptive statistics including means and frequencies were calculated. For qualitative interviews, full transcripts were created from audio-recordings and uploaded into NVivo for content analysis. 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.


Georgia Southern University faculty member, Moya L. Alfonso, co-authored "The Willow Hill Community Health Assessment: Assessing the Needs of Children in a Former Slave Community" in the Journal of Community Health (40, 855-862 (2015)).