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NC State Extension

Faith-Based Sites

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Partnering with Faith Communities and Other

Faith-based Organizations

Faith-based organizations can be strong partners in imagining and implementing policy, systems, and environmental change. Faith-based sites might include faith communities (any religious or faith tradition) or faith-based non-profit organizations. Faith-based sites have tangible and intangible strengths and assets that can help build and sustain change. They often have physical spaces like kitchens, meeting rooms, playgrounds, and/or land. One of their greatest strengths is people – participants, volunteers, lay leadership, and champions for health and well-being. Many faith communities and faith-based organizations have a missional focus and many are trusted institutions within communities. All of these strengths and assets can be leveraged in partnership to make impacts both within the organization and in the wider community. 

Layering

Taken together, education, PSE, and social marketing changes are more effective than any of these strategies alone for improving health and preventing obesity.

Direct Education

Is a faith-based program the most appropriate program for your audience? Questions? Contact Kim Eshleman at keshlem@ncsu.edu.

 Faithful Families Thriving Communities (Faithful Families) works directly in communities of faith across the country to promote health for individuals, families, and local communities. The practice-tested program is open to all faith and religious traditions and engages faith communities in health education, environmental changes to support health, and community-wide health initiatives.

Other programs to consider:

 Take Control is an 8 session chronic disease prevention program that provides strategies to help adults manage their health. It informs, empowers, and motivates participants to change their eating and physical activity patterns.

Color Me Healthy LogoColor Me Healthy is a nutrition and physical activity program for children ages four and five. It is designed to stimulate all the senses of young children: touch, smell, sight, sound, and of course, taste.

 Kids Club serves youth at Summer Food Service Sites and After School sites. Session topics include ways to be active inside and outside, participating in activities to improve heart and bone health, eating more fruits and vegetables, and drinking more water.

Policy, Systems, and Environmental Change (PSE)

PSE initiatives are based on many factors that influence what people eat and how they choose to be active. From access to healthy food to the walkability of communities, people adopt certain heath behaviors for a variety of reasons.

The Building Blocks of a Healthy Community Site 

Steps to Health’s PSE Toolkit for community sites can be a great tool to help you get started in your work with faith communities and other faith-based community organizations. 

This toolkit includes everything you need to move through the process of assessment, planning, and implementation of PSE changes with community sites, including training materials to help you partner effectively with organizational leadership, action planning tools and resources, assessment tools, promotional materials and more!

Communities Moving Together: A Guide to Facilitating Community-Led Walk Audits

Walk audits can be a powerful tool for identifying both assets and needs within a community’s built environment, but also for bringing community members together around a shared vision. You might also use a walk audit to build on momentum from PSE work done at the organizational level to expand on changes to the built environment within the broader community. 

This guide helps communities to assess and enhance their physical environment in places where people live, work, learn, pray, and play, by facilitating community-led walk audits.

In addition to the guide, Steps to Health and Faithful Families developed a series of video modules to highlight steps to planning community-led walk audits. These videos can be utilized to assist local organizations in planning and conducting community-led walk audits to assess the physical environment, walkability, and to increase safety. Additionally, community partners and leaders share successes from their own experiences, demonstrating the positive impacts that walk audits can bring to communities.

Social Marketing

Do you want to continue to encourage faith communities to make the healthy choice? The Steps to Health text message campaign continues engagement with these groups! To implement this in your community:

  1. Build internal support. 
  2. Market with your supporting partners. This could be done by sending faith community members home with a contact card  or sharing digitally through social media and newsletters.
  3. If you would like to report how many people in your county signed up as a result of your efforts, email sth-socialmarketing@ncsu.edu. 

Additional Resources

Already using this toolkit or partnering with a faith community or faith-based organization? Here are some additional resources you may need:

Faithful Families Faith Community Assessment

The Faith Community Assessment is meant to be filled out by a member of the faith community. You may also consider working through the assessment with a leader in the community, and using the assessment and results as a tool for generating conversation among leaders and membership within the community or participants in a program at the site. It helps the faith community to better understand their resources, assets, and needs. The results of this assessment can be used to develop policy, systems, and environmental changes that can best support health in that particular faith community. The assessment can be completed online or by hand. If completing the assessment online, the results of the assessments can be downloaded as a PDF. This can be utilized as part of program delivery with the Faithful Families curriculum, but can also be used on its own with faith communities working on PSE before, after, or independently of direct education.

Planning Guide for Faithful Families

The Planning Guide for Faithful Families can assist the faith community in setting up an Health Committee and develop action steps to implement changes that support community health.

Steps to Health PSE Reporting and Resources