Research: Latino kids lack access to safe ‘active spaces’

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This infographic summarizes and illustrates the current status of the problem of the lack of active spaces for underserved communities, possible solutions and recommendations to solve the problem. <i>Click on images for larger view.</i> clear graphic
This infographic summarizes and illustrates the current status of the problem of the lack of active spaces for underserved communities, possible solutions and recommendations to solve the problem. Click on images for larger view.  

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Contact: Elizabeth Allen, 210-450-2020

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (July 3, 2013) — Latino kids often have limited access to safe gyms, fields and playgrounds, but shared-use agreements and street-level improvements can improve access to these “active spaces” in underserved communities.

Improving young Latinos' health
Having safe places to play and exercise may help young Latinos become more physically active and maintain a healthy weight, according to a new package of research materials from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.

The new Salud America!Active Spaces for Latino Kids” research materials start off with an in-depth review of the latest science on the U.S. Latino physical activity environment and policy implications based on that research.

The full package of materials also includes an original animated video and infographic.

Lack of safe places to play
A study shows that 81 percent of Latino neighborhoods did not have a recreational facility, compared with 38 percent of white neighborhoods. Fewer schools provided public access to their physical activity facilities in 2006 (29 percent) than did in 2000 (35 percent).

Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., director of <i>Salud America!</i>, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research, says shared-use agreements are one way to provide more active spaces in communities.clear graphic
Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research, says shared-use agreements are one way to provide more active spaces in communities. 

 

Community collaboration
Shared-use agreements — formal contracts between entities that outline terms for sharing public spaces for physical activity — have increased access to active spaces in Latino communities.

“Shared use agreements can help open school spaces to the public by protecting against liability and promoting shared costs and staffing,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Salud America! is a national network of stakeholders seeking environmental and policy solutions to Latino obesity.

Safe routes to active spaces
Other ways to increase use of active spaces include:

  • “Complete streets” — repairing sidewalks and installing street lights, trails and bike lanes that can help Latino families walk and bike more safely to active spaces
    • Studies show that more people walk or bike to active sites when those sites are closer to home and safer to access.
    • Evaluating the characteristics of active spaces can ensure those spaces (and new ones) meet Latinos’ cultural needs.

  • “Open streets” close off all vehicular traffic and create safe, inviting active spaces for residents.
    • A program in a Latino-majority urban area of Chicago used an open streets model that closed streets to vehicles and allowed 10,000-plus residents to walk, run and bike.
Series of research packages
The new research package is the third of six new research material packages to be released this summer by Salud America!, each of which focuses on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity. They include:
  • healthier school snacks;
  • better food in the neighborhood;
  • active spaces;
  • active play;
  • healthier marketing (coming August 2013), and
  • sugary drinks (coming August 2013)
Each topic’s package contains:
  • a research review;
  • an assessment of all available scientific evidence on the topic;
  • an issue brief, a short summary of the research review;
  • an animated video narrated by Latino children; and
  • an infographic, a visual summary of the topic.
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