Shared use is a strategy that leverages existing community areas for use as recreation spaces for the whole community. By allowing the broader public to have access to resources such as schoolyards, the entire community has increased opportunities for physical activity.
Community Commons discusses the potential of shared use in Fair Play: Advancing Health Equity Through Shared Use. One example they highlight is the effort by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department to come together with community organizations and residents to combat the substantial health inequities that exist in the area. Developing maps to identify areas in need of outdoor recreational space, the coalition pioneered shared use to open up public school facilities to the community. As a result of these efforts, residents have access to many more opportunities for physical activity.
Shared use does not require substantial financial resources, which makes it an especially attractive approach in communities strapped for extra funding. Community Commons discusses three ways that people can address health equity through shared use – make use of data, engage the community, and think upstream.
The American Heart Association’s ANCHOR program is another great example of shared use in action. ANCHOR efforts in West Virginia have found success in working across the state in partnership with the Department of Education. Claire Butler, the American Heart Association Regional Campaign Manager in West Virginia, emphasizes the importance of building a network of support for shared use. This is especially important to combat barriers such as liability and ground maintenance concerns.
Interested in learning more about shared use? Check out American Heart Association’s Voices for Healthy Kids Shared Use Liability Toolkit and this Shared Use Fact Sheet.