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Recreation and park agencies play a key role in promoting healthy lifestyles
Date:8/4/2008

provide access to low-cost facilities such as ball fields, parks and walking trails for programs, which are highly visible and well known to local residents. Such agencies already reach out to at-risk groups targeted in health campaigns such as children, older adults, low-income and minority families.

"Health campaigns naturally involve recreation and park departments because they provide low-cost, close-to-home opportunities for physical activity, such as trails, recreation centers, outdoor courts, and outdoor swimming facilities," says Mowen. "Parks, trails and recreation centers can also serve as settings for physical rehabilitation."

Successful partnerships were likely to show high levels of trust among partner agencies, a recognized need for the collaboration, administrative support, and staff empowerment. Common health partnership challenges include a lack of seed funding, communication and turf issues, and garnering full support from community stakeholders such as local government or school board members. Despite these barriers, study results suggest that small, rural recreation and park departments are increasingly interested in being an active health partnership participant.

"Having facilities is critical, but then, programs also have to be established to bring in residents and encourage them to take part," say Mowen. "Partnerships that include after-school programs, diet and nutritional information, and policy efforts to promote recreational settings should be encouraged. "

"The study was designed to provide baseline information on the state of current health partnership practices within the profession, their successes and their challenges," says the Penn State researcher. "Such information can be used to help a community effectively develop a program in health and physical activity promotion."


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Contact: Andrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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