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Innovative schools built as community centers for joint use of education, recreation, and social spaces

Three innovative joint use schools in California, Ohio, and Illinois are discussed as prime examples of how “community partnerships, shared land usage, and clever financing schemes to create facilities that function not just as schools, but also as vibrant community centers.” These joint use schools are designed with shared spaces in mind to address both the education needs of students and the community’s need for social, recreational, and civic spaces. Read more here.

An Updated Wealth of Joint Use Tools and Resources Now Available via ChangeLab Solutions

Recognizing the value in shared use agreements as a low-cost strategy to increasing physical activity by utilizing existing resources, ChangeLab Solutions has created a new section of their website dedicated to tools and resources for creating successful shared use agreements. Resources include information on addressing liability concerns, the “nuts and bolts” to creating an agreement, state-specific liability laws around shared use, and sample joint use agreements from across the country.

North Carolina Supports Joint Use Agreements to Strengthen Schools and Communities

North Carolina has adopted an initiative on joint use agreements to provide North Carolina school administrators, local school boards, city and county government employees, and community members with the information and tools to development agreements.  Through this support, North Carolina will be increasing access to playgrounds, running tracks, trails, sports fields, gymnasiums, and aquatic facilities, while sharing costs between these various groups.  Find more information here.

Community Soccer Field to be Built in Manatee, FL to Improve Community Engagement and Physical Activity

At the request of community members who have been requesting a shared recreational area, the Manatee County School District and the county’s parks and recreation department have agreed to build a  soccer field at Daugthrey Elementary School.  This agreement is the first of many to follow, as the county works to implement joint use agreements for all county and school resources.  This joint use agreement will not only provide the community with a means to be more physical active and engage more with one another, but will also improve the quality of the school and the neighborhood.  Read more here.

New Study Highlights Ways Joint Use Agreements Have/Can Improve Physical Activity in Under-Resourced Communities in Los Angeles

In a study of Los Angeles County school districts, with all have disproportionately high adult and child obesity rates, researchers assessed the use and impact of creating joint use agreements to improve physical activity in under-resourced communities.  The study found that of the 1,669 site users they observed, most were Hispanic and nearly half were adults, with the majority engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity.  Overall, the study showed that community member use of school sites was 16 times higher in schools with joint-use agreements than those without.  To read more on this study, click here.

Texas Adopts Policy to Increase Access to Physical Activity Opportunities for Kids through Joint Use Agreements

As part of an effort to continue development and implementation of School Healthy Advisory councils (SHAC) throughout the Texas School System, Texas Governor Ricky Perry has signed legislation this month that would direct SHACs to recommend joint use agreements between schools and communities.  By recommending the establishment of partnerships between schools and community organizations, Texas law is promoting increased access to physical activity and fitness opportunities for Texas public school students. Read more about the policy here.

Promoting Physical Activity through Shared Use of School and Community Recreational Resources

This new resource from Active Living Research summarizes research on community access to school recreation facilities outside of school hours as well as challenges associated with shared use of school facilities.  The research brief also presents recommendations and opportunities for policymakers at the state and local levels.

Los Angeles Moves To Increase Pocket Parks, Green Spaces

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced a plan to develop 50 pocket parks scattered throughout Los Angeles over the next year and a half, to provide greenery, places to sit outdoors, and children’s playgrounds to city residents. In addition to the pocket park plan, the city is also raising money to build larger parks in historically park poor neighborhoods. Los Angeles is currently 22,000 acres short of its public parkland standard, which calls for 10 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. A formal announcement, including the 50 park locations, will come in March.

Schools in LA Open for Community Access and Activity

Education, health and community leaders have agreed to open some Los Angeles school campuses after hours so that families will have a safe place to exercise. The new program, named JUGAR, the Spanish word for “play,” aims to turn schools into community hubs, where residents can participate in aerobics classes, walking clubs and other activities that promote health. “We don’t want the families to see this as only a Monday-to-Friday place,” said Alex Avila, one of the school’s principals. “We want the community to feel welcome always.”

Chicago Looks to Increase Open Space and Safe Places to Play

The city of Chicago has a modest standard for parks: for every 1,000 people, there should be two acres of open space. Unfortunately, half of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents still live in communities that fail to meet that standard. Existing open spaces are often difficult to reach, due to highways and other arterial roadways blocking the way, or unsafe conditions caused by gang activity. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District have signaled their willingness to work on the problem, though much remains to be done.

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