What are the RALA Tools?
The Rural Active Living Assessment or RALA tools are simple to use tools designed to assess the physical environment and amenities, community characteristics, community programs and policies that influence levels of physical activity in rural areas as well as the accessibility and availability of healthy food in rural communities. In other words, it can help to assess the built environment of a community.
What is the Built Environment?
People’s choices are influenced and impacted by the built environment they live, work, learn and play in, which in turn affects their health. The built environment is the sum of the human-made surroundings and natural environments in a community; including buildings and spaces (homes, schools, workplaces, neighbourhoods, parks, trails, industrial/commercial areas, etc), the products they contain, and the infrastructure (transportation, energy and agricultural systems) that links and supports them.
A growing body of literature has linked the built environment to many public health concerns including; physical inactivity, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and other respiratory diseases, mental health, injuries and social/health inequities. However; the literature also shows that designing healthier built environments can have positive preventive impacts on health by making the healthy, active choice the safe and easy choice!
Who can use the RALA Tools?
The RALA Tools are designed for use in rural communities (population of 10,000 or less). They can be completed by a planner or other appropriate municipal staff member, knowledgeable community members or a Public Health Inspector.
Who developed the RALA Tools?
The RALA Tools were developed through the Maine Rural Health Research Centre of the University of Southern Maine. Through pilot projects with several New Brunswick communities, the OCMOH has adapted the RALA Tools for use in New Brunswick. Additionally, the OCMOH added a Supplementary Food Environment Assessment tool to give a more complete (holistic) view of the community for healthy living.
Where can I get more information on the RALA Tools?
Additional information on the RALA tools and the Built Environment can be found by clicking HERE.
Final Reports of communities who completed the Rural Active Living Assessment in New Brunswick
Click links below to view documents
- Grand-Sault/Grand-Falls (*French)
- Lamèque (*French)
- Rogersville (*French)
- Blacks Harbour
- Hanwell (Report coming soon)
Are you interested in knowing more about Healthy Built Environments? Is your community interested in completing the RALA tool? Or are you looking to view a copy of the adapted RALA tools for use in New Brunswick? If yes to any of these questions, please contact Cindy Levesque at Cindy.Levesque@gnb.ca for more information.