Despite extensive community efforts that have resulted in obesity decreases in Cambridge, MA over the last decade, obesity among Black youth remains disproportionately high. Likewise, racial/ethnic academic achievement disparities persist and are evident at early ages.

Prior research and emerging national policy recommendations confirm the need for place-based, early childhood interventions to address persistent racial/ethnic disparities in obesity and school readiness. A community-based participatory research initiative is developing an intervention targeted to pre-kindergarten children and their families in a diverse Cambridge neighborhood. The intervention will partner with a Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) program designed to support school readiness through extended pre-school, health care, and community-based services. To identify community partners and plan our efforts to promote healthy eating and active living (HEAL) and support school readiness, we conducted a community asset assessment.

Through mixed-methods, we (1) identified 239 potential HEAL assets in Area 4; (2) mapped assets to analyze the distribution and proximity of assets to neighborhood children (age 0-5); and (3) interviewed community leaders to provide context. Our findings informed our understanding of the community and helped prioritize the public housing authority, a childcare “clearinghouse”, and a coalition of faith-based organizations as high-impact intervention partners and settings.

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