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Page updated: 12 April 2012

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Updated: 12 April 2012

Active Living Research: Promoting Physical Activity through Shared Use of School and Community Recreational Resources

Sharing School Facilities Research

A new research brief from Active Living Research summarises research on community access to school sport and recreation facilities outside of school hours, as well as studies that examine the shared use of school facilities and programs with other community groups or agencies. It also describes challenges commonly associated with the shared use of recreational facilities, and opportunities for policy-makers at the state and local level.

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Sharing School Facilities Research

The key findings and recommendations outlined in the research breif are as follows:

  • Children who have access to existing and renovated school recreational facilities outside of regular school hours are more likely to be active.
  • Progress toward opening school facilities for recreational use outside of school hours is slow and some evidence suggests that lower-income communities are less likely than higher-income communities to offer shared use of school facilities.
  • Surveys of school administrators in lower-income communities or communities of color cite issues such as liability, staffing, maintenance and cost as barriers to opening schools for recreational use outside of school hours.
  • The Institute of Medicine recommends that local governments "collaborate with school districts and other organisations to establish joint use of facilities agreements allowing playing fields, playgrounds, and recreation centers to be used by community residents when schools are closed; and if necessary, adopt regulatory and legislative policies to address liability issues that might block implementation." 
  • Schools, community groups and local governments can enter into joint use agreements to address the perceived barriers to sharing recreational facilities and programs.