Unlock Playgrounds To Unlock Health

This story was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Six shared-use projects In Maricopa County are opening school facilities outside of school hours so community members have access to safe recreation and other activities for good health.

Did you know that Phoenix ranked 96th out of 100 cities for parks per 10,000 residents? This means that 95 other big cities have more parks per person than Phoenix. And that’s just in Phoenix, which also happens to be the sixth largest city in the country. Maricopa County also has smaller cities and rural areas that also would benefit from increased access to safe recreation areas. In low-income communities, schools are often the only place to find safe and affordable recreation facilities.

Introducing: A Shared-Use Summit (June 2016)

Initially, SCALE-grantee Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) put out a Request for Proposals, intending to give out mini-grants to start or expand shared-use projects. 

Fail Forward Moment: When nobody responded to the opportunity, MCDPH decided to re-start by educating the community on what shared-use is.

Learning about shared-use best practices

Analyzing the opportunities and potential solutions to challenges of implementing Shared-use

Launching: Shared-Use Mini-Grants (September 2016)

This time when the Request for Proposal went out, community members were aware of shared-use and what it could provide to their community, which increased the number of applications. Success!

Six out of ten shared-use grant applications were awarded!

Projects Overview

GarfieldCommunity garden at school
SolanoOpen fields for recreation
NadaburgOpen gyms, open libraries, GED classes, community clinic
Unlimited PotentialFarming, community and family gardens, CSAs, farmers' market, community-building
PalomaRecreation, including fitness equipment, open to public
WilsonClasses and recreation to public

Action Lab: Planning For The First 100 Days (October 2016)

After learning about Action Labs, the grant awardees committed to following the structure to achieve quick, sustainable success!

After learning about Action Labs, the grant awardees committed to following the structure to achieve quick, sustainable success!

Project Spotlight: Nadaburg Unified School District in Whittmann, Arizona

Nadaburg is a rural community with few resources available to the community. Recreation opportunities are scarce, and half of the town is separated by a highway. 

Two out of three residents fall at or below 200% of poverty level, meaning they qualify for assistance benefits--and likely do not use recreational opportunities that cost money, such as gyms or fitness equipment.

Gantt chart from Nadaburg Shared Use project plan highlighting planned resources the project will bring to the community, including reading, GED programs, Chuck Norris Karate, and more.

Participants work together to plan their action

Evaluation Report from the Shared-Use Action Lab

Earned Media (January 2017)

The big newspaper for the state, the Arizona Republic, did a front-page story on the project. They interviewed MCDPH staff, as well as representatives from a few of the grant awardees.

Elected officials have noticed the movement and have asked how they can be involved!

Halfway through the 100 days: