Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

September 2019


TPL Suggests Schoolyards as Park-Access Solution

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

New Study May Change Use of Chlorine Stabilizers in Swimming Pools - September 2019

High School Sports Participation Declines for the First Time in 30 Years - September 2019

City Parks Alliance on Park Funding & Equity - September 2019

Survey Reveals Top Outdoor Recreation Activities - August 2019

Pediatricians Urge Communities to Provide Swim Lessons for All - August 2019

Report: Tennis Participation Remains Consistent - August 2019

Survey: Only Half of Collegiate Sports Programs Follow NCAA Model for Student Medical Care - August 2019

Fieldhouse Renovated, Expanded at UW-Platteville - July 2019

NRPA, Disney Award Play Space Grants - July 2019

Swim Clinic Teaches Water Safety Basics - July 2019

Nation's Pediatrics: Put More Emphasis on Enjoyment of Sports - July 2019

Diabetes Declines, National DPP Program Helped - July 2019

Washington, D.C., Unseats Minneapolis as Best City Park System - June 2019

Survey: Half of Americans Use the Pool as a 'Communal Bathtub' - June 2019

NFL Foundation Helps to Advance Youth Wellness - June 2019

Youth Sports Participation Holds Steady in 2018 - June 2019

Dog Parks Still on the Rise - May 2019

USA Swimming Grants Will Boost Learn-to-Swim Programs - May 2019

IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club - May 2019

New Program Aims to Grow Pickleball & Tennis - May 2019

IHRSA Reports on Health Club Compensation - April 2019

Grant Funding Brings Parks Closer to People in 10 Cities - April 2019

Note & Float Program Reaches Lifesaving Milestone - April 2019

Fund Established to Assist Aspiring Women Coaches - April 2019

Applications Open for ESPN RePlay Program - April 2019

NRPA Offers Play Space Grants - March 2019

Smarter Lifeguard Management - March 2019

U.S. Soccer Foundation Aims to Boost Female Participation - March 2019

In Oregon, Outdoor Recreation Saves $1.4 Billion in Healthcare Costs - March 2019

Survey: Communities Should Support Pollinators - February 2019

NSPF, APSP Unite to Form Pool & Hot Tub Alliance - February 2019

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention - February 2019

Senior Living Continues Shift Toward Wellness - February 2019

Partnership Aims to Expand Play Opportunities - January 2019

Grant Funds Help Educate Pool Operators - January 2019

NFL Foundation Grants Boost Local Football Fields - January 2019

Leaders Recognized for Advancing Outdoor Recreation - January 2019

Goldfish Swim School Sponsors USA Swimming Foundation - December 2018

Physical Activity for Kids Gets Low Grade - December 2018

New Law Helps Sports Medicine Professionals & Athletes - December 2018

Outdoor Recreation Adds Billions to U.S. Economy - November 2018

Nearly $1 Million in Pool Grants Awarded - November 2018

Report: One in Four Americans Use a Health Club - November 2018

New Active Transportation Program Aims to Boost Health & Environment - November 2018

Foundation Celebrates Sports Innovations - October 2018

Grant Awarded to Chattanooga Nature Play Area - October 2018

Obesity Continues to Challenge America's Health - October 2018

Grant Program Funds Keep America Beautiful Initiatives - October 2018

Nation's Pediatricians Emphasize Power of Play - October 2018

Step Into Swim Continues to Create New Swimmers - September 2018

Pickleball Benefits Older Adults - September 2018

NSPF Endorses MAHC Adoption - September 2018

Cities Spend More on Public Parks in 2018 - September 2018

By Dave Ramont

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) creates parks and protects land for people, striving to ensure that everyone can live within a 10-minute walk of a park, garden or other natural area. Recently, the organization released a report detailing how public school grounds across America could help solve the issue of park access for more than 19 million people—including 5.2 million children—who currently don't have a park within a 10-minute walk of home.

There are approximately 100,000 public schools in the United States, but only around 10% of them currently allow public access to schoolyard sites. Meanwhile, more than 100 million Americans—including 28 million kids—don't have access to a park within a 10-minute walk of home.

Diane Regis, president and CEO of TPL, explained that improving schoolyards and making them accessible to surrounding communities can make a real difference to millions of kids and families.

"Safe, close-to-home places to play outdoors are essential for the health and well-being of communities across the country, yet far too many people lack access to parks," Regis said. "Meanwhile, tens of thousands of acres of public school playgrounds sit locked and unused when school is out. Improving and opening our schoolyards is a win-win that can come at a much lower cost to the city than building a new park."

TPL helps communities implement "shared-use agreements"—contracts between a local government and school district allowing schoolyards to remain open to the public outside of school hours, including after school, during summer break, and on weekends and holidays.

Sharon Danks, CEO of Green Schoolyards America, said that shared use is a cost-effective way to make the most of scarce open space in cities. "In the best cases, these agreements create a smooth working relationship between a school district and their local city government, to clearly define each partner's roles and responsibilities. Often, shared-use agreements resolve liability-related responsibilities and shift the burden for increased costs and maintenance away from our underfunded school districts, so the wider community that benefits can help shoulder the costs."

TPL has worked in communities nationwide to build green schoolyards within a 10-minute walk of more than 4 million people, while also capturing tens of millions of gallons of stormwater, increasing tree canopy, reducing the heat island effect and creating access to nature for surrounding neighborhoods.

"Green schoolyards improve the ecology of their neighborhoods and provide the community with green space, while also improving the places where children spend their time on a daily basis," said Danks. "If we can green every school ground, all children will have access to nature every day."

The Trust for Public Land is advocating for broader adoption of shared-use agreements to tap into the potential of the nation's schoolyards. This can make an immediate and significant difference for a neighborhood's access to open space. Learn more at tpl.org/schoolyards.