Healthy Eating Active Living: Mapping Attributes using Participatory Photographic Surveys, or HEAL MAPPSTM, is a community-based research process that uses photography, GPS and GIS technology, and residents’ voiced perceptions to address food access, healthy eating, and physical activity. Coordination involves working with community partners, local extension offices, and campus faculty to plan, implement, and evaluate HEAL MAPPS.

HEAL MAPPS engages people in community‐based participatory research (CBPR) to accomplish two objectives: (1) document attributes of the community environment that are perceived by residents to be supportive or inhibitive of healthy eating, and (2) assess local resources and readiness to implement community‐level strategies to address healthy food access and food insecurity among children and families.

MAPPS connects people with place and provides immediate benefits to the community. MAPPS is an effective engagement, assessment, and action tool that can be applied to a variety of public health problems where understanding how the interaction of people and place is essential to developing locally relevant solutions.

In Marion County, Harding High School students participated in HEAL MAPPS as part of their summer school programming. The mappers were provided GPS/camera units to photograph features or situations that they perceived to be inhibitive or supportive of healthy food access. The OSU research team and mappers developed a presentation for the community using the geocoded routes and photographs in order to facilitate dialogue.

The result of this HEAL MAPPS engagement process is a Community action plan and story map for raising the awareness of food insecurity and health food in Marion County. To learn more contact Whitney at OSU Extension, (740) 223-4040 or

Community Presentation

Photos and Routes

Executive Summary

Final Report