Outdoor Learning Environments Soon Available in TX

Texas (39.1% Latino population) is launching five Outdoor Learning Environment demonstration sites across the state, three of which are at early childcare centers. This is great news for many Latino students across the state. Currently, children today can spend 8-10 hours a day in childcare. However, like many Latino-majority schools, childcare facilities offer less time for kids to play and be active. As early as age four, Latino children face gaps in academic performance and disparities in obesity. Latino kids need safe places to play and be active to reduce obesity and boost academic achievement. Naturalize Outdoor Playgrounds Play – particularly play in nature – is critical for healthy child development. Nature supports creative problem solving, enhances cognitive ...

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Chicago Schools Partner with Water Agencies to Green Schoolyards

Chicago school before and after green schoolyard playground

Finding safe places for kids to play hasn't been easy for Latino families in Chicago. For example, 30 years ago, the federal government sued the Chicago Parks District for favoring parks in white neighborhoods and neglecting parks in African-American and Latino ones. Schools in Chicago didn't have equitable funding to maintain their own playgrounds over the years, either. At the same time, the nation was shifting to a school day with less time for recess—creating a "recess drought." But school officials wanted to play a role in increasing access to safe green space for Latino kids and families. Solving the 'Recess Drought' (and Preventing Floods) Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the nation, took a big first step in 2011. They passed a recess ...

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County-wide Health Initiative to Open School Grounds After Hours in Arizona

Latino Health Physical Activity School Shared Use

School playgrounds, fields, and gyms sit unused afterschool and on weekends in Maricopa County, Arizona (30.5% Latino), and across the country, because schools are locked up after classes end. Access to safe places to play is critical to reduce obesity among Latino kids and families and boost their mental, physical, and emotional health. However, schools close their gates for many reasons such as, concerns about liability, vandalism, and additional staffing and maintenance costs. Noteworthy, Arizona state law protects schools from liability when outdoor facilities are open to the public. Also vandalism decreases with better lighting and when more people utilize the park, and many schools across the country establish partnerships with parks and recreation departments to help with ...

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Teen Leaders Bring A Fitness Trail to Harmon High in Kansas City, KS

What happens when youth are given the opportunity to lead their classmates toward a healthier school environment? The results might just amaze you! Teens involved in the 20-20 Leadership program at JC Harmon High School, a 58% Latino school in Kansas City, Kan., learned about the county’s high obesity rates—and they decided to do something about it. They developed plans for a healthy hub at Harmon High and later came up with the win-for-all solution of developing an outdoor fitness trail on school grounds. Now the school has a half-mile fitness trail and students plan to continue enhancing fitness opportunities by installing outdoor exercise equipment along the trail. EMERGENCE Awareness: D’Angelo Hicks was a junior at Harmon High when he first joined 20/20 Leadership, a 10-15 ...

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Shared Use Agreement Transforms Schoolyard into ‘SPARK Park’

Community, school, and city officials worked together to develop a shared use agreement to use school grounds to create a community park at Sky Harbour Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, with a playground, exercise equipment, trails, and an amphitheater that is open after school hours. The effort illustrates how city officials, a non-profit organization, a school district, a P.E. coach, students, parents, and members from the community can work together to bring important improvements to the physical environment that can increase local options for physical activity. Each of these stakeholders saw the need for more play space in the community and supported a shared use agreement to guarantee access to Sky Harbour’s recreational facilities on school grounds after school hours. From ...

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