Parks & Recreation

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Parks and recreation facilities provide opportunities for physical activity and can help people of all ages lead a more active lifestyle. People who live near parks are more likely to be active. However, some lower-income communities and communities of color tend to have less access to quality parks and recreation facilities. Our research documents the most effective ways to improve the design, quality and availability of parks and recreation resources. Making recreational facilities accessible in all communities is a critical strategy for increasing physical activity and preventing obesity.

Download our Parks and Recreation-related Resources Sheet for the best evidence available about a variety of park- and trail-based strategies for promoting physical activity.

View The Role of Parks and Recreation in Promoting Physical Activity infographic.

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A National Survey of Correlates of Local Health Department Engagement in Community Policy to Encourage Physical Activity

Date: 
02/23/2015
Description: 

Presentation at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background
Evidence has accumulated that particular environmental conditions and characteristics correlate with walking and bicycling, including participation in these behaviors for active transportation.  Public health authorities have recommended strategies in the realms of land use and urban design, transportation and recreation access for communities to become more walk- and bicycle-friendly. Model policies in these domains exist. Policy development is one of the core functions of public health, and evidence suggests that policy activity or development by local health departments (LHDs) correlates with policy adoption. However, there are critical practice gaps. Participation by local health officials in the built environment policy process, including policies related to land use and urban design, transportation and recreational access that promote physical activity, is limited.  Greater LHD involvement could increase the adoption and implementation of policies needed for national physical activity objectives and benchmarks to be met. LHD characteristics and activities have been shown to affect delivery of essential public health services, engagement in quality improvement efforts, partnership involvement, ties to other LHDs that could facilitate implementation of evidence-based programming, and public health performance. Better understanding of LHD characteristics associated with participation in built environment policy processes is an important first step to developing tailored interventions to increase policy implementation.

Objectives
We assessed correlates of local health department (LHD) participation in community-focused policy and advocacy activities to encourage physical activity in the past two years in a nationally representative sample of LHD directors.

Methods
Cross-sectional data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ 2013 National Profile of Local Health Departments were analyzed. 490 LHD directors completed both Core and Module 1 of the web-based survey (79% response rate). Policy participation was measured by a series of questions that first asked if the LHD had participated in obesity/chronic disease prevention policy and advocacy activities in the past two years. Those who responded yes were specifically asked about involvement in community level urban design and land use policies to encourage physical activity, active transportation options, and expanding access to recreational facilities. Correlates included structural characteristics (population size served, region, jurisdiction type, staffing), quality improvement efforts (completion of Community Health Assessment (CHA) and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) status, use of core competencies for public health workers, and use of Guide to Community Preventive Services), and collaboration (community land use partnership, cross-jurisdictional sharing of resources). Multivariable logistic regression models were used.

Results
Less than one-quarter of LHD directors reported that their department had been involved in policy and advocacy activities related to urban design and land use (25%), active transportation (16%) and recreational facility access (23%). In multivariable logistic regression models, LHDs with populations of 500,000 or more and consistent use of the Community Guide were associated with participation in each of the three policy types. Higher Full Time Equivalent (FTE) levels were associated with greater participation in policy to increase active transportation, with trends of an association with participation in policy for land use and urban design and expanding recreational access. LHDs with a community health improvement plan were more likely to participate in urban design and land use policy, whereas LHDs that were undecided about pursuing accreditation status were less likely to participate in recreational policy.  Participation in a community partnership related to land use was associated with urban design and land use and active transportation policy activity.

Conclusions
Population size served and staffing resources correlated with LHD participation in policy activities to increase community physical activity. Quality improvement efforts such as CHIP development, PHAB status and use of the Community Guide were associated with or show a trend toward policy participation. Collaboration in terms of partnering with the community on land use, but not resource sharing across LHDs, correlated with policy activity to increase physical activity at the community level.

Implications
Opportunities for interventions at the local level to boost policy implementation include assisting LHDs that serve smaller population sizes, integrating community physical activity strategies into LHD quality improvement efforts, and coaching LHDs on partnership-building with officials and the community in the areas of land use, transportation and recreation by increasing their capacity in these unfamiliar technical areas.

Support / Funding Source
This analysis is a product of a Prevention Research Center and was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number U48/DP001933 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Authors: 
Karin Valentine Goins, MPH, University of Massachusetts Medical School
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Evaluation of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities

Date: 
02/25/2015
Description: 

Presentation at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background
The evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC) national program is an example of an effort to apply systems science and mixed-methods evaluation approaches to comprehensive policy, systems, and environmental interventions. The HKHC national program (www.healthykidshealthycommunities.org) supported community-based efforts to implement policy, system, and environmental changes aimed to make communities healthier, particularly for higher-risk children and families (ethnic/racial minorities, lower-income populations, or those living in southern states), by increasing both active living and healthy eating. RWJF funded one year of evaluation planning (mid-March 2009 to mid-March 2010) and four subsequent years to support a mixed-methods evaluation of HKHC (April 2010 to March 2014), including all 49 communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. Communities selected to participate in this multi-year demonstration varied in population and geographic sizes (municipal to eight counties), sociodemographic composition (median annual household income, race/ethnicity, urban/suburban/rural), scale (county-wide to specific organizations or settings), scope of their proposed strategies (e.g., new or modified parks versus nutrition assistance in farmers’ markets), lead organizations (nonprofit, education, philanthropy, government), and age of the community partnerships. The evaluation did not focus on changes in individual behaviors and health outcomes.

Description
Eight complementary evaluation methods addressed four primary aims seeking to: 1) coordinate data collection for the evaluation through the web-based project management system and provide training and technical assistance for use of this system; 2) guide data collection and analysis through use of the Assessment & Evaluation Toolkit; 3) conduct a quantitative cross-site impact evaluation among a subset of community partnership sites; and 4) conduct a qualitative cross-site process and impact evaluation among all 49 community partnership sites. The evaluation consisted of the following key components: HKHC Community Dashboard: This web-based project management system (www.hkhcdashboard.org) coordinated data collection for the evaluation. It was designed to encourage the formation of a collective learning network among community partnerships, Project Officers, and Evaluation Officers. This website included functions such as social networking, progress reporting, and access to the assessment and evaluation toolkit to maintain a steady flow of users over time and increase peer engagement across communities. Individual and Group Interviews: Evaluators collaborated with community partnerships to conduct individual and group interviews with staff, partners, and community representatives before, during, and after site visits. Interview protocols focused on organizational and community factors influencing processes and means used to develop, implement, and enforce policies. In addition, evaluators tracked costs and funding associated with the design, development, implementation, and enforcement of cross-site strategies. Group Model Building: The evaluation team and partners from the Social System Design Lab at Washington University in St. Louis co-designed a group model building process to develop behavior-over-time-graphs and graphical system dynamics models (causal loop diagrams) with community partnerships. These exercises provide deeper and shared insights among representatives from the community partnerships into the drivers of obesity dynamics, better understanding of local systems at play, more rigorous critique of assumptions underlying the systems, and greater “buy in” to high-leverage prevention policy recommendations. Enhanced Evaluation: The evaluation team created tools, protocols, and trainings for environmental audits and direct observations associated with cross-site strategies to be conducted by community partnerships. Participation in these methods was voluntary, yet 31 of 49 community partnerships engaged in these activities. Supplemental Methods: Evaluators also collected and analyzed data from an online partnership and community capacity survey, photos, community partnerships’ annual narrative and financial reports, and surveillance systems (e.g., U.S. census). A synopsis of cross-site findings with community examples will be presented.

Lessons Learned
Several themes emerged, including: the value of systems approaches, the need for capacity building for evaluation, the value of focusing on upstream and downstream outcomes, and the importance of practical approaches for dissemination. Constraints included: a lack of standards in the field for indicators and measures of many of these factors, difficulty in attributing effects or impacts to specific strategies, and challenges with analyzing, interpreting, and applying what is learned, particularly with respect to complex systems science methods.

Conclusions
Community-based initiatives such as HKHC provide promising approaches for addressing childhood obesity. This presentation illustrates how mixed-methods evaluation approaches can provide practice-relevant evidence that has the potential to improve population health. The mixed-methods evaluation of HKHC advances evaluation science related to community-based efforts for addressing childhood obesity in complex community settings.

Next Steps
This evaluation will inform research and practice related to the design, implementation, and evaluation of policy, system, and environmental interventions; key partners to engage in the process to change community environments; and possible causal relationships among social determinants as well as factors associated with partnership and community capacity that influence healthy eating and active living policies and environments, and health and health behaviors.

References
Evaluation of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Supplement  to be published in March/April 2015.

Support / Funding Source
Support for this evaluation was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (#67099).

Authors: 
Laura Brennan, PhD, MPH, Transtria LLC
Location by State: 

A Longitudinal Study: The Impact of a Signalized Crosswalk on Crossing Behaviors in a Low-Income Minority Neighborhood

Date: 
02/24/2015
Description: 

Presentation at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background
There is a paucity of research exploring the behaviors of low-income community residents in context of their neighborhoods (Gordon-Larsen et al., 2006; Zhu & Lee, 2008). These underserved communities often are comprised of an outdated built environment with high-speed, high-volume streets resulting in limited access to parks and active transportation. Studies show that key neighborhood features, including high-speed traffic and general walkability, directly influence physical activity (Kaczynski et al., 2014; Handy et al., 2008). We have previously shown that the completion of a signalized crosswalk and median linking low-income housing with a public park showed positive effects on active living behaviors (Schultz et al., 2014). Additional data collection in 2014 provided an opportunity to examine the longevity of these behavioral changes associated with the crosswalk installation.

Objectives
This study aims to explore if previously observed built environmental influences on street crossing behaviors and traffic speed reductions have been sustained in a low-income minority neighborhood with significant barriers to physical activity opportunities.

Methods
Data collection occurred at one Intervention site (Providence Road) and one Control site (College Avenue) in Columbia, MO. The Control site was selected by examining relevant characteristics of the neighborhood (e.g., size, income level), and the corresponding street (e.g., number of lanes, typical traffic volumes/speeds, pedestrian crossing facilities). Street crossing behaviors were collected using direct observation and assessed the mode of transportation, designation of the crossing (e.g., Designation Zone: Designated Crossing [at intersections/crosswalks] or Non-Designated Crossing [e.g., other crossing point]), as well as race/ethnicity, gender, and age within 5-6 predetermined zones at both sites. Magnetic traffic detectors were also embedded in both the Intervention and Control streets during the data collection to capture traffic volume and speed. Data collection ran concurrently, at both sites, for a total of 21 observational shifts over the same two-week period in June 2012 (pre-intervention), June 2013 (post-intervention) and June 2014 (follow up). Crossing behaviors were recorded during three hour-long shifts (7:30am, 12:30pm, and 3:30pm), while traffic data were collected continuously for 150 hours during the first week. Traffic sensors were unavailable at the Control Site in 2014. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all variables. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) models assessed changes in crossing behaviors at each site from 2012 to 2014, controlling for temperature. Changes in traffic speed (above the speed limit/below the speed limit) and volume at each site from 2012 to 2014 were analyzed using Pearson’s Chi Square.

Results
Total pedestrian crossings at the Intervention site did not significantly change from 2012(n=1,408) to 2013(n=1,352) or 2014(n=1,380; p=0.561), but there was a significant year*designation zone interaction(p=0.018). Pairwise comparisons of the Designated Crossings indicated an overall increase between Years 2012(M=1.050) and 2014(M=1.248; p=0.012) and Years 2012(M=1.050) and 2013(M=1.233; p=0.033), but not between Years 2013(M=1.233) and 2014(M=1.248; p=0.995). Pairwise comparisons of the Non-Designated Crossings indicated no change overall between Years 2012 and 2014(p=0.533), Years 2012 and 2013(p=0.917), or Years 2013 and 2014(p=0.894). There was also a significant year*designation zone*race interaction (p<0.001).

Conclusions
This study suggests that street crossing infrastructure improvements can help support lasting changes in pedestrian behavior. These data may help inform decisions regarding future street-crossing interventions and could be used to guide policies promoting physical activity in similar communities where high-speed arterials are barriers to parks and active living.

Implications
By demonstrating increased pedestrian safety and traffic calming longitudinally, this study adds support to the feasibility of advocacy efforts to promote transportation practices that favor safe pedestrian accessibility over vehicular traffic. These successful outcomes could be used to support advocacy efforts seeking to modify the built environment to increase physical activity in underserved neighborhoods.

References

  1. Gordon-Larsen, P., Nelson, M. C., Page, P., & Popkin, B. M. (2006). Inequality in the built environment underlies key health disparities in physical activity and obesity. Pediatrics, 117(2), 417-424. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-0058.
  2. Handy, S. L., Cao, X., & Mokhtarian, P. L. (2008). The causal influence of neighborhood design on physical activity within the neighborhood: evidence from Northern California. American journal of health promotion, 22(5), 350-358.
  3. Kaczynski, A., Mohammad, J. K., Wilhelm Stanis, S. A., Bergstrom, R., & Sugiyama, T. (2014). Association of street connectivity and road traffic speed with park usage and park-based physical activity American journal of health promotion, 28(3), 197-203. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120711-QUAN-339.
  4. Schultz, C., Wilhelm Stanis, S.A., Sayers, S., & Thomas, I. (March, 2014). Oral presentation for the 2014 Active Living Research Annual Conference. San Diego, CA.
  5. Zhu, X., & Lee, C. (2008). Walkability and safety around elementary schools economic and ethnic disparities. Am J Prev Med, 34(4), 282-290. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.01.024.

 

Support / Funding Source
University of Missouri Research Board Grant

Authors: 
Courtney Schultz, MS, North Carolina State University
Location by State: 

SPARK Parks: Monitoring the Implementation and Impact of Schoolyards-turned-Community Parks

Date: 
02/24/2015
Description: 

Presentation at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background
The importance of physical activity to individual health is widely recognized, and empirical research shows that close-to-home access to parks and other recreational amenities can encourage higher levels of physical activity.[i] However, many Americans do not have parks close to home. Within the largest 60 U.S. cities, 31.7% of residents (over 16 million people) do not have access to a park within a 10-minute walk of their home[ii]; “high-need” neighborhoods (those with low-income, high-minority, and dense populations of children) tend to be particularly short of park space.[iii] Increasingly, schools and joint-use agreements (JUAs) are being used to provide essential recreational spaces and studied for their obesity prevention potential.[iv] The SPARK School Park Program, created in 1983 as a way to increase park space and access in Harris County, Texas, works to develop public schoolyards into community parks. Over 130 schoolyard-to-park conversions (“SPARK Parks”) currently exist within the county, and provide much needed park space to local residents. 340,000 people in Harris County live within a half-mile of a SPARK Park, and 129,917 people in Houston (6% of the total population) only have access to public park space within a 10-minute walk because a SPARK Park exists nearby. While access, design, and quality/condition of the built environment are understood to influence physical activity, there is a gap in the knowledge regarding what specific park features, characteristics, and policies most impact use and health.[v]

Description
Recently, The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit land conservation and parks organization, partnered with the SPARK School Park Program to evaluate the use of SPARK Parks and to monitor the implementation of joint-use agreements. Direct observations using SOPARC: the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities are being conducted at all completed SPARK Parks and ten control parks.[vi] Evaluations measure use (number of people, age, and activity levels) and accessibility, and are taking place during time periods when the SPARK Parks are available for public use (during non-school hours and on weekends). An assessment tool, based upon the Community Park Audit Tool, CPAT, is also being used in all of these parks.[vii] In addition, a survey of park users is being conducted to gather additional information about the use of these parks, barriers to use, design preferences, and other perceived benefits or impacts of parks. This information about park access, features/characteristics, conditions, and use, will help evaluate the success of these joint-use agreements, and lessons learned will be developed in collaboration with SPARK and other stakeholders.

Lessons Learned
The data collected will be used to find strategies to maximize the impacts of current parks, and develop and provide recreation practitioners with evidence-based recommendations for creating active and engaging schoolyard parks. Data collection is currently underway, and will be completed in October 2014. This data will be used in the following, specific ways: (1) Evaluate the role (in terms of park access and park use) of SPARK School Parks and associated JUAs within the county's parks and open space system; (2) Assess how park features and characteristics contribute to park use and activity (with a focus on moderate and vigorous levels); and (3) Study SPARK service areas and explore the impact of potential new SPARK Parks.  Information about the current SPARK implementation process and use of these SPARK Parks, as well as new lessons learned and recommendations to improve the implementation of JUAs and schoolyard-to-park conversions, will be the focus of this presentation.

Conclusions
It is a unique opportunity to be able to monitor the implementation of joint-use policies and evaluate the impact of parks among such a large number of completed projects. Determining how existing schoolyard-to-park conversion programs successfully implement joint-use agreements and renovations is important for both maximizing the impact of existing programs, informing new programs, and providing information to researchers and practitioners alike. The data collected will also help inform park design and the creation of better-used, effective, and impact-maximizing park spaces.

Next Steps
The Trust for Public Land is currently documenting the need for new parks and identifying the most park-deficient neighborhoods in Harris County through our ParkScore methods. This on-the-ground measurement of park access and use could identify underserved areas and support the development of new SPARK Parks, help inform decisions regarding investments or reinvestment in park projects, and help to engage public agencies, elected officials, and nonprofit partners in decisions regarding the priorities and funding for improved park access and related policy implementation.

References

  1. Mowen A, Kaczynski AT, Cohen DA. The Potential of Parks and Recreation in Addressing Physical Activity and Fitness. President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Research Digest. 2008; 9(1). www.presidentschallenge.org/informed/digest/docs/march2008digest.pdf.
  2. Kaczynski AT, Henderson KA. Environmental correlates of physical activity: A review of evidence about Parks and Recreation. Leisure Sciences. 2007; 29(4):315-354.
  3. The Trust for Public Land. Data from ParkScore® index. The Trust for Public Land; 2014. http://parkscore.tpl.org/.
  4. Sherer PM. The Benefits of Parks: Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space. San Francisco, CA: The Trust for Public Land; 2006. www.tpl.org/health-benefits-parks.
  5. Bocarro J, Kanters M, Edwards M, Suau L, Floyd M. Shared Use of School Facilities: A Systematic Observation of Facility Use and Physical Activity. [Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Conference].
  6. Kanters M, Bocarro J, Carlton T, Moore R, Floyd. After-school Shared Use of Public Facilities for Physical Activity in North Carolina. [Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Conference].
  7. Slater S, Chriqui J, Chaloupka F, Johnston L. The Pros and Cons of the Influence of Joint Use Agreements and Adolescent Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviors. [Presentation at the 2014 Active Living Research Conference].
  8. Cohen D, Marsh T, Williamson S, et al. Parks and physical activity: why are some parks used more than others? Prev Med. 2010; 50(Suppl 1):S9–S12.
  9. Dunton GF, Kaplan J, Wolch J, et al. Physical environmental correlates of childhood obesity: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2009; 10(4):393–402.
  10. Bedimo-Rung AL, Mowen AJ, Cohen DA. The Significance of Parks to Physical Activity and Public Health: A Conceptual Model. Am J Prev Med. 2005; 28(2 Suppl 2):159 –168.
  11. McKenzie TL, Cohen DA. 2006. SOPARC (System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities) Description and Procedures Manual. http://activelivingresearch.org/sites/default/files/SOPARC_Protocols.pdf.
  12. Cohen DA, Setodji C, Evenson KR, Ward P, Lapham S, Hillier A, McKenzie TL. 2011. How much observation is enough? Refining the administration of SOPARC. J Phys Act Health; 8(8): 1117-23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22039130.
  13. Kaczynski AT, Wilhelm Stanis SA, GM Besenyi. 2012. Community Park Audit Tool (CPAT). http://activelivingresearch.org/sites/default/files/CPAT_AuditTool_v3.pdf.

 

Support / Funding Source
Funding for the SPARK School Park evaluation is provided by The Houston Endowment.

Authors: 
Bianca Shulaker, MPL, The Trust for Public Land & Kathleen Ownby, SPARK School Park Program
Location by State: 
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Assessing Community Readiness for Childhood Obesity Prevention: Findings from Georgia

Date: 
02/25/2015
Description: 

Presentation at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

Background
Communities play a critical role in addressing the childhood overweight and obesity epidemic. Community members, organizations, and governments make the decisions that affect land use, nutrition, marketing, community planning, transportation and ultimately the health status of their residents. Communities provide the context, environment, and opportunity for children to eat well and be physically active (CDC,2009). They are ideally positioned to provide resources, promote behaviors fostering change, and develop effective strategies to promote healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, and healthy weight. Recent research highlights the important role collaboratives can play in promoting physical activity (Litt et al.,2013).  In Georgia, little is known about the number of collaboratives at work or their readiness and capacity to implement evidence-based childhood obesity prevention strategies. In 2012, Georgia State University’s School of Public Health (SPH) partnered with the Georgia Family Connection Partnership (GaFCP) to identify local communities in Georgia that have existing capacity and interest in expanding childhood obesity prevention efforts. SPH and GaFCP assessed community readiness related to the existence of collaboratives, leadership, partnerships, community knowledge, and local resources. This study presents findings on the community readiness of 15 communities engaged in childhood obesity prevention efforts across Georgia.

Objectives
To  identify communities in Georgia that have an interest in expanding childhood obesity prevention efforts and assess their capacity and readiness for future implementation of policies and programs to address childhood obesity.

Methods
The Community Readiness Model (CRM) assesses the capacity to which a community is prepared to address an issue (Plested, Edwards, & Jumper-Thurman, 2006). The CRM has been applied to childhood obesity prevention and used to develop effective, culturally-appropriate, community interventions (Findholt,2007;Sliwa et al.,2011). The model is based on the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change and assesses six dimensions, including existing efforts, community knowledge of efforts, leadership, community climate, community knowledge of issue, and resources available to support efforts. The model includes prevention/intervention strategies for each stage of readiness.  Fifteen collaboratives across Georgia were identified in this study. Collaboratives with moderate to high levels of interest were included.  Collaboratives that existed within the last three years and were previously active were also included. Seventy-nine key informant interviews were conducted (4-6 interviews per collaborative) using a semi-structured questionnaire assessing the six dimensions of readiness. The key informants represented different sectors of the community (e.g., healthcare, education, community organizers, and policymakers). Data were analyzed using qualitative methods and the CRM scoring system. Researchers discussed and reconciled differences in scores and reached consensus for each dimension. An overall stage of readiness score was reached for each collaborative by taking the total of all calculated scores and dividing by the number of dimensions (6).

Results
Overall, total readiness scores ranged from 2.8 to 5.1 out of 9. Ten out of 15 communities scored in the Preplanning stage (clear recognition that something must be done; efforts are not focused or detailed). One community scored in the Denial/Resistance stage (there is little recognition that the problem is occurring locally); two communities scored in the Vague Awareness stage (a local concern, but no immediate motivation to take action); and two communities scored in the Preparation stage (active leaders with modest support of efforts). The average score across all collaboratives for community efforts was 6.3 (Initiation Stage), community knowledge of efforts was 3.5 (Vague Awareness Stage), leadership was 4.6 (Preplanning Stage), community climate was 3.1 (Vague Awareness Stage), community knowledge about the issue was 3.5 (Vague Awareness Stage), resources available was 5.1 (Preparation Stage), and total average score was 4.3 (Preplanning Stage).

Conclusions
In Georgia, only 15 out of 159 counties have established collaboratives dedicated to childhood obesity prevention. Efforts were not always coordinated, widely supported, or adequately publicized.  This was reflected in the lower scores in community climate and community knowledge. While many decisions related to nutrition and physical activity are made at an individual level, this is only one piece of the puzzle.  Individuals can only make healthy decisions when they have the resources, environments, and opportunities to do so.  Communities can respond to the obesity epidemic by creating environments that support healthy eating and encourage physical activity.  Evidence supports the efficacy of community involvement in promoting healthy eating and active living, which ultimately benefits the health of residents. The state has a growing number of communities with interest in childhood obesity prevention and many have expressed a need for support on effective approaches. There is a need for state action to catalyze efforts to support the establishment of additional collaboratives and build capacity to implement childhood obesity prevention programs and policies.

Implications
This study has demonstrated the utility of the CRM for understanding community capacity on childhood obesity prevention. Four of the collaboratives subsequently received grants from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation to implement childhood obesity prevention initiatives. GSU and GaFCP are providing technical assistance for implementation of their childhood obesity prevention policies and programs.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States. MMWR 2009;58 (No.RR:07).
  2. Litt JS, Reed HL, Tabak RG, Zieff SG, Eyler AA, Lyn R, et al. Active Living Collaboratives in the United States: Understanding Characteristics, Activities, and Achievement of Environmental and Policy Change. Prev Chronic Dis 2013;10:120162.
  3. Plested B, Edwards R, Jumper-Thurman P. Community readiness: a handbook for successful change. Fort Collins (CO): Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research; 2006.
  4. Findholt N. Application of the community readiness model for childhood obesity prevention. PH Nurs 2007, 24(6):565–570.
  5. Sliwa S, Goldberg JP, Clark V, Collins J, Edwards R, Hyatt RR, et al. Using the community readiness model to select communities for a community-wide obesity prevention intervention. Prev Chronic Dis 2011, 8(6):A150.

Support / Funding Source
The Healthcare Georgia Foundation funded this study.

Authors: 
Erica Sheldon, MPH, Georgia State University
Location by State: 
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Influencing Active Living Policy and Practice: How Can I Improve My Pitch?

Description: 

Workshop at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Date: 
02/22/2015
Abstract: 

Researchers are often disappointed or frustrated that their research is ignored by policy-makers and practitioners. This partly stems from ‘the gap’ between researchers and policy-makers and a lack of understanding of the policy-making process. The aim of this workshop was to assist participants to understand how to better ‘pitch’ their ideas and research to active living decision-makers:  bureaucrats, practitioners and politicians. Workshop participants were invited to write a letter or email to a policy-makers, practitioner or bureaucrat requesting an opportunity to meet to discuss an issue, an opportunity for a collaboration, and/or a need for policy-reform. The letters were reviewed and all participants received feedback on their written communication. Four participants were also invited to present a five minute ‘pitch’. After receiving feedback, workshop participants worked together in four teams to discuss and distill key lessons about how a future pitch could be improved to achieve one’s goal.

Download the summary notes from the workshop: Strategies for an Effective Pitch

Authors: 
Billie Giles-Corti, PhD, McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, The University of Melbourne; Peter McCue, Executive Officer, NSW Premier's Council for Active Living, Sydney, Australia; Tracy Delaney, PhD, Public Health Alliance of Southern California; William Fulton, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University
Location by State: 
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Systematic Observation of Physical Activity using iSOPARC: An iPad Application for Research and Practice, 2015

Date: 
02/22/2015
Description: 

Workshop at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

This two-part workshop focused on data collection in community settings using the direct observation SOPARC (System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities) and provided practice for using iSOPARC – an innovative iPad application for collecting and storing SOPARC data. In addition to standard SOPARC data on physical activity, iSOPARC permits the collection and exportation of photos, and enables the identification, mapping, and spatial area calculation of target areas using the iPad’s GPS technology. Workshop participants learned the basic operation of iSOPARC and how the application can be used for large and small research projects. The first part of the workshop focused on the SOPARC approach for data collection on physical activity an area characteristics, followed by an introduction on the use of the iSOPARC application for iPads. Participants were taught the basic functions of iSOPARC using video examples of various physical activity settings.  Participants experienced real-life data collection using iSOPARC in outdoor settings. Following data collection practice, participants viewed their data in real time by uploading their observations.

Authors: 
Troy Carlton, MS, MBA, North Carolina State University; Thomas McKenzie, PhD, San Diego State University; Luis Suau, PhD, Shaw University
Location by State: 
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Using Technology for Community-based Advocacy and Environmental Change: The Community Park Audit Tool App

Date: 
02/22/2015
Description: 

Workshop at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

This workshop provided participants with an overview of the Community Park Audit Tool (eCPAT) app and its utility in advocacy and community change efforts. The first segment of the workshop included an overview of research on advocacy, technology and civic engagement, and parks and physical activity. Part 2 consisted of an introduction to the eCPAT, including its development and content. Part 3 included onsite use of the eCPAT and debriefing in a local park. The final part of the workshop was an interactive discussion about how the eCPAT and similar tools can be used for advocacy and environmental change to promote public health.

Authors: 
Gina M. Besenyi, MPH, University of South Carolina; Sonja A. Wilhelm Stanis, PhD, University of Missouri; Andrew T. Kaczynski, PhD, University of South Carolina; Travis Smith, PhD, National Recreation and Park Assocaiton
Population: 
Location by State: 

Community Commons: A National Data, Mapping and Reporting Platform to Support Policy Implementation

Date: 
02/22/2015
Description: 

Workshop at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Abstract: 

A wealth of data is readily available from Federal and State Data Warehouses for communities across the United States; however, many organizations often lack the time, expertise, or technological infrastructure to make the best use of data resources for policy implementation. Community Commons, which is an evolving interactive mapping, networking, and learning utility for the broad-based healthy, sustainable, livable communities movement, strives to overcome these constraints by providing easy-to-use, democratized access to data, GIS-generated maps, and reporting tools. This workshop highlighted two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Community Commons Hubs: The Childhood Obesity GIS (COGIS) and the Salud America! Growing Healthy Change Hub that includes a policy-mapping tool.

Authors: 
Chris Fulcher, PhD, CARES-University of Missouri; Roxanne Median-Fulcher, JD, Institute for People, Place and Possibility (IP3)
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Getting Them To Listen: Tools for Community and Decision Maker Engagement

Description: 

Workshop at the 2015 Active Living Research Annual Conference.

Date: 
02/22/2015
Abstract: 

Building community champions and getting funding are crucial for change.  In order to do so, both researchers and practitioners must engage all of the stakeholders. This workshop provided a strong overview of many community engagement tools, along with an exercise and action plan outline for helping attendees determine their approach for any given outreach or planning effort. Through small group activity and individual action planning templates, participants learned how to determine best outreach, engagement, and communication strategies given their own particular research or planning efforts. In person participatory, surveying, and web-based interactive methods were reviewed.

Authors: 
Teresa Penbrooke, MAOM, CPRE, North Carolina State University, GP RED, and GreenPlay LLC
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