227349 Public Parks, Recreation Resources and Public Health: Short Term Battles and Long Term Consequences

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

David C. Sloane, PhD , Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
LaVonna B. Lewis, PhD , Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Lark Galloway-Gilliam, MPA , Community Health Councils, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
Bethany Ulrich , REACH US Project, Community Health Councils, Los Angeles, CA
Research has demonstrated the importance of parks and recreational facilities in stemming obesity rates and improving health outcomes through physical activity opportunities. Vulnerable communities are dependent on public resources; often the only venues providing accessible and affordable physical activity programming. This paper describes and evaluates a process of assessment to policy and programming influence through a community coalition in South Los Angeles, a heavily minority area experiencing the highest obesity rates in Los Angeles County. The first step moves from assessing public recreational facilities as merely “acres per 1,000 people” to an expanded definition of facility environments and programming. Then, using the results of that assessment to develop a community monitoring program built around “standards of quality” for public parks and facilities. Community Health Councils, Inc., through the REACH US project partnered with community organizations and university partners to conduct a physical activity facility survey. The survey revealed factors that contribute to accessibility including whether a facility is public or private-run, hours of operation, cleanliness, and variation in programming. A CHC moderated community coalition has worked to address the findings of the survey by developing a set of standards to monitor existing resources and serve as an organizing tool to expand resources. Confronted by budget cuts and a recessionary economy, public health and community coalitions need to create innovative approaches to sustaining and expanding recreational opportunities in vulnerable communities. These approaches should be community-based, focused on the gaps in recreational environments, and use data and policies to improve community resources.

Learning Areas:
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate a community-led assessment of community resources. Describe how to use assessment data to initiate policy changes around park access and programming.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I initiated, developed, and maintain two environmental health coalitions. I spur members to advocacy, community-based research, and policy development.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.