Community Playtime – It’s Good for Everyone
Your entire community should be up and active! Partner with local community groups and organizations to offer physical activity opportunities outside regular school hours. The school can be a great, safe place for everyone to exercise. This Play was developed in collaboration with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Students — and their families — who have access to a school’s fields, gyms or play areas outside the school day are more likely to be active and stay active.i
iSpengler J.O. Promoting Physical Activity through the Shared Use of School and Community Recreational Resources. A Research Brief. Princeton, NJ: Active Living Research, a National Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; April 2012.
Huddle up with your school's Program Advisor and PE teachers to help brainstorm ideas and schedule gym time. Remember to include the whole team: community members to work on partnerships with local businesses and students to strike up some ideas for activities, promotion and ongoing participation.
Meet with your principal to talk about how a partnership with an outside organization can work. Many schools use what's called a "Shared Use Agreement" when working with outside organizations. Use some of these videos that show how it can work, and then ask your principal or district administrator to make this happen for your school!
- Healthy Partnerships: Joint Use Agreements (2:19)
- Get in the Game: Using Joint Use Agreements to Improve the Health of Your Community (13:51)
- Joint Use of School Facilities (23:31)
Conduct a "Community Huddle" of partners who can provide resources and join in the agreement. Parks and recreation, faith-based communities and other afterschool programs make great team partners. Each partner can contribute to the agreement. For example, some cities provide security/maintenance services because it is more cost-effective than building a new facility. District police personnel, the PTA and local beautification organizations (like Conservation Corps) are all potential partners that can help add something to your program.
You can use the information in The Importance of Having a Safe Place to Play to support your argument and build awareness.
Once you have an idea about partnerships that could be formed, work with the principal and the organizations to formalize your agreement and set up times and days for the activities to happen.
Remember to start small with a pilot program to be sure the partnership will work. Then, as you work out the details, you can expand the program to be school- and community-wide.
Use the Tools and Resources provided to help you organize. You’ll also learn more about how schools and communities can work together to help everyone get more physical activity.
Build student leadership opportunities. Encourage students to get more involved with your partner organizations. For example, perhaps there are community volunteer opportunities available through the recreation department. Maybe older students can help by starting a tutoring program at the local YMCA or youth center that younger students can access outside school hours. There are many ways to help students get more engaged both in this specific Play and in the community in general.
Spread the Word
Get the word out to students and their families. Hold a Kickoff event to build excitement and awareness about the new opportunities available.
Consider partnering with local farmers to set up a farmer’s market around your community activity times. Families can have fun being active and have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy foods at the same time!
Contact local media and put up flyers or posters in area businesses to get the word out about what you are doing.
Think long-term and sustainable. Long-term, formal, joint use agreements make it much easier to maintain a program like this. Watch the longer of the videos provided under “Get Organized” to find out why, and consider whether that would be best for your school in the long run.
This section has ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about friendly competitions, ideas on how to include students and adults or ways to bring in the family connection.
A joint use agreement is designed to help students find ways to be active. Help set up some flag football scrimmages, or other sports, to encourage students to come out and play. Use friendly competitions between classes or schools to get students excited to make physical activity a natural part of their daily lives.
- Share ideas for community activities
- Get the word out to families and neighborhood organizations
- Work with organizations to develop schedules and lists of needed supplies
- Encourage families to participate together by using these ideas on how to adapt activities to include all students
Homefield Advantage provides useful, practical ways for parents and family members to get involved in making this Play a success — in school and at home! Click here for a printout that is ideal for students to take home and share!
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
Just getting started? Here is something you can do without jumping right into the full Play. Let this idea get you warmed up so you’re ready to tackle the full Play!
Work with a community organization to hold a joint event, like a community health fair. Set up games and activities both at the school and at the partner facility to highlight the benefits of working together and the opportunities it provides for future activities together. Take pictures and video and create a presentation highlighting the potential for long-term mutual benefits, and use that to further your ideas!
BERNSHAUSEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Color RunRead More
HAYS-PORTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Flying Pig Marathon
Hays-Porter students participated in the Flying Pig Marathon in Ohio. The Fuel Up to Play 60 participants participated in healthy activity sessions 6 weeks before the race, in which they learned to eat right and began conditioning for the race.Read More
PS 59 WILLIAM FLOYD SCHOOL
Are You Fitter Than A Fifth Grader?
I got the whole school and community involved. Teachers and parents would come to me during and after school to ask how they could improve in a component of fitness. The event was fifth graders against teachers, parents, third and fourth graders.Read More
GATES SECONDARY SCHOOL
Building a Fitness FieldRead More
HOOVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Healthy Hoover Family Fitness Night
Students and families built up a sweat at Hoover Elementary's annual Family Fitness Night Kickoff.Read More
Remembering to Play
We brought back playing in our school, something junior high students forget as they get older. During lunch times, we brought out hula hoops, bouncers, and rope for tug-o-war. We would have dance offs before school. It was time to just have fun and laugh.Read More
Funding and Outfitting Your Play
What might help?
• Signs and cones to mark off different activity areas
• Sports equipment to support chosen activity, such as sports balls
• Fuel Up to Play 60 playground stencils and/or stencils to recognize community partners
• Bike rack and other equipment to encourage families to bike to school
• Items to create a walking trail
Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60
Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kickstart healthy changes!