Online Program

Promoting park-based physical activity programs for Latino youth

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Aracely Macias, MPH, School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry, Piscataway, NJ
Mariam Merced, MA, Community Health Promotion Program, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ
Sandra E. Echeverria, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Youth living in select communities in the state of New Jersey have been found to have more than twice the prevalence of overweight/ obesity than the national average and are significantly less likely to meet physical activity guidelines. There is growing research evidence to suggest that creating or enhancing the living environment to be more ‘activity friendly' for youth holds much promise for increasing activity, and eventually combating the obesity epidemic. We present results of the ‘Fun in the Park' program which was a unique community-based program conducted in the city of New Brunswick, NJ that used culturally relevant activities and local Latino youth as ‘park ambassadors' to promote physical activity in parks. The program was evaluated using SOPARC (System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities), a highly used, feasible and reliable instrument that provides an assessment of park users' physical activity levels by gender, activity modes/types, estimated age and race/ ethnicity. Results showed that on program days park usage more than tripled, youth were engaged in active forms of park play (versus more sedentary) and that it may have indirectly contributed to more active play even for non-program participants. Further, we discuss the distinct features of the program, and how the program was tailored to the local Latino community. We end with suggestions on how to successfully integrate physical activity promotion programs into ongoing resources within communities, and how to effectively work with local/government groups and organizations to achieve program goals.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the burden of obesity among Latino youth and the need for more effective interventions; Discuss the connection between environmental factors and the effect they have on the health of a community; Demonstrate the importance and challenges of strong community engagement and careful planning to tailor programs to local communities.

Keyword(s): Child Health Promotion, Community Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I lead the evaluation of the community-based program to determine the impact it had on activity levels of park visitors. I am working with a team of public health and community professionals who are looking for ways to collaborate further with the local government and departments to address childhood obesity in the community. I have helped develop other evaluation tools for interventions focused on the health of the Latino community in New Brunswick, NJ.
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.