Increasing Physical Activity in Under-Resourced Communities Through School-Based, Joint-Use Agreements

Los Angeles County, 2010-2012

Few studies have examined how joint-use agreements between schools and communities affect use of school facilities after hours for physical activity in under-resourced communities. The objective of this study was to assess whether these agreements can increase community member use of these opened spaces outside of school hours.

  • Trained observers conducted school site observations after joint-use agreements were implemented in 7 Los Angeles County school districts. All 7 districts had disproportionately high adult and child obesity rates, and all had executed a joint-use agreement between schools and community or government entities from January 2010 through December 2012.
  • To assess use, researchers adapted the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) instrument to record the number, demographic characteristics, and physical activity levels of community members who used the joint-use school sites. To supplement observations, researchers collected contextual information for each location, including the existence of physical activity programs at the site and the condition of exercise equipment.
  • RESULTS:  We completed 172 SOPARC observations and related environmental assessments for 12 school sites. Observations made on 1,669 site users showed that most of them were Hispanic and nearly half were adults; three-quarters engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Community member use of school sites was 16 times higher in joint-use schools that had physical activity programs than in schools without such programs.
  • CONCLUSION:  Joint-use agreements are a promising strategy for increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity among adults and children in under-resourced communities. Providing physical activity programs may substantially increase after-hours use of school facilities by community members.

Lafleur M, Gonzalez E, Schwarte L, Banthia R, Kuo T, Verderber J, Simon P. (2013). Increasing physical activity in under-resourced communities through school-based, joint-use agreements, Los Angeles County, 2010-2012. Prev Chronic Dis, 10, E89. doi: 10.5888/pcd10.120270

filed under