Students Implement Community Health Needs Assessment Projects

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Thanks to collaboration by Fairmont State University and the City of Fairmont, students enrolled in Community Health Education at the University have had the opportunity to identify health and safety needs in Fairmont and are implementing projects to address those needs.

The “City of Fairmont Needs Assessment” and “Fairmont State University Needs Assessment” were research-based projects initiated by students over the past year. Students collected data from a number of sources. They analyzed government data, developed electronic surveys and completed interviews with residents and key stakeholders.

Results of the needs assessment projects revealed that drugs and substance abuse ranked first among residents’ health or safety concerns, followed by physical inactivity, food cost and cancer.

“Developing the ability to assess needs and resources are critical skills for health educators,” said Dr. Amy Sidwell, Assistant Professor of Health Education and Physical Education in the FSU School of Education, Health and Human Performance. “These projects have allowed students the opportunity to work within the community to address real issues.”

For a two-week period from April 20 to 29, students will be implementing programs based on their findings. To address substance abuse issues, Saige Mongold and Scotty Dryden will work with East Fairmont Middle School; and Domonique Keys will address tobacco use with elementary school students. Christie Viltrakis and Brianna Blake have prescription drug abuse and alcohol prevention activities planned for Fairmont State students at the Falcon Center.

To address problems related to weight, Gerlie Jenkins will educate Marion County Senior Citizens about safe physical activities for older adults. For nutrition education, Tesla White will teach students at Fairmont Catholic how to prepare healthy snacks. Chelsie Dunn will educate mothers about benefits of breast feeding at the Marion County Health Department. 

Because cancer rates are particularly high in North Central West Virginia, Nikki Bland will implement a skin cancer informational session with South Fairmont Rotary. Shauntise Weeks and Elena Wojcik are working closely with Fairmont Regional Medical Center on colorectal and cervical cancer prevention. 

For more information on the FSU Community Health Education program, visit