Improving Access to Parks, Trails and Recreation Facilities: How Public Health Researchers Can Inform Policy

Washington, DC (February 9, 2008)- The workshop will provide an overview of the collaborative process and examples of participatory research tools developed by researchers, community agencies and community groups to improve access to recreational physical activity, active travel, parks and trails in low-income and ethnically diverse urban areas. Participants will have an opportunity in small groups to develop plans and strategies for participatory research including developing research questions, plans for data gathering and a process for use of findings. Two collaborative efforts will be highlighted.

The Office of Parks and Recreation (OPR) in Oakland, California in collaboration with the Division of Research (DOR), Kaiser Permanente conducted focus groups, community meetings and a survey of randomly selected neighborhood residents to determine barriers to neighborhood active travel, recreational physical activity and park use in low-income neighborhoods highly impacted by crime and issues related to traffic safety.
With support from Kaiser Permanente, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) completed an assessment to encourage trail use on the Metropolitan Branch Trail among residents in adjacent underserved neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Assessment included a literature review, physical assessment of the built environment and community meetings. The goal of the research activities was to identify a range of programs and infrastructure elements that will support community use and ownership of the parks and trail and to provide specific recommendations for local policy makers to encourage physical activity and promote healthier lifestyles.
Annette Aalborg, DrPH, Research Scientist, Division of Research Kaiser Permanente
Michelle Brown, Deputy Director, Oakland Department of Parks and Recreation
Jeffrey Ciabotti, Vice President of Trail Development, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Kelly Pack, Coordinator of Trail Development and Outreach, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Kelly Cornell, Trails Information Coordinator, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
About New Partners for Smart Growth
The 2008 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Washington, DC, hosted attendance of more than 1300 people from across the country for three full days of presentations, discussions, and information sharing. The conference was produced by the Local Government Commission (LGC), with support from a very impressive and multi-disciplinary group of partners and sponsoring organizations, agencies and companies.
Related Resources:
7th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy, and Livable Communities