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Schools in Fresno, CA (52.8% Latino) opened their green and blue spaces to the public.
Green spaces are parks, playgrounds, sports fields and other outdoor play spaces. Blue spaces are swimming pools, lakes and rivers.
Latino kids lack safe green and blue spaces, thus face higher rates of chronic disease, drowning, and drowning related injuries compared to white kids.
In June 2016, the Fresno Parks, After School, Recreation, and Community Services Department (PARCS) started a new Weekend Recreation and Fitness Program (WRFP) to get help kids and families stay more active.
With a $1.2 million dollar budget from the City of Fresno, Fresno Unified School District, and Central Unified School District, they opened school facilities, like playgrounds, sports fields and green space, to the public on weekends. They also provided fitness and nutrition programming.
This type of agreement between a city and schools is known as a shared or joint use agreement.
After 16 weeks of tracking across 16 locations, attendance grew from 167 participants in the first week to 759 participants in the sixteenth week.
Because they program was successful, they wondered how they could expand it.
In 2017, Fresno Unified School District expanded the WRFP to open seven of its high school swimming pools over the summer as part of their Community Blue and Green Space program.
This is the first time in 20 years that the school pools have been opened to the public.
“During the summer when it’s 110 degrees on weekends, this gives us more pool options available for the community to swim,” said Shaun Schaefer, community services manager for the parks department, according to one source.
Increasing access to green and blue space, is critical to improve both physical and mental health.
Does your school have facilities that could be shared with the public in the evenings, on weekends, or during the summer?
You can make a difference in your community by opening existing facilities.