Community School What's Happening

New Resource: Breaking Physical Activity Barriers Through Open Community Use

Central-Office_Open-Community-Use-Blog_Photo-400BY EMILY PINEDA, M.Sc., PAPHS
HEAL SPECIAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR
DIVISION OF NUTRITION, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, AND OBESITY
SC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL

There are many reasons to be physically active. We may engage in physical activity to improve our health, to connect with friends, to relieve stress or to have fun. In order to be active, South Carolinians need safe, affordable and convenient spaces and places to be active.

Local schools have a variety of outdoor recreational facilities—playgrounds, fields, courts and tracks—where people can engage in physical activity. Being intentional about making schools’ outdoor recreational facilities available for communities to use is an effective, affordable way to promote and support physical activity among citizens. The South Carolina School Boards Association (SCSBA) and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is in full support of schools and school districts allowing the community free access to schools outdoor recreational facilities.

SCSBA is encouraging all school districts to adopt the open community use model policy to provide free access to the schools’ outdoor recreational facilities. Dr. Tiffany Richardson, the Director of Policy and Legal Services at SCSBA explains, “In some communities, schools are often the only place to find safe and affordable recreation spaces.”

This year, DHEC will be reaching out to schools, school districts and communities to encourage the adoption, implementation and promotion of open community use.

DHEC and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina have developed an open community use playbook, Breaking Physical Activity Barriers Through Open Community Use. The playbook provides guidance to school administrators, teachers and community members interested in adopting and implementing the strategy to increase physical activity. To better understand the current status of open community use, DHEC assessed and published The Status of Open Community Use in South Carolina 2015.

We hope to create communities where being physically active is not only easier but also safe and fun. In years to come, we hope to see more school districts embrace the SCSBA’s open community use model policy and more schools practicing and promoting open community use. For more information about the open community use playbook, status report, or other general questions, please contact Emily Pineda, the Healthy Eating/Active Living Coordinator, at pinedaes@dhec.sc.gov or 803-898-1696.