Joint use and community use of school facilities in Missouri - What a year of research has shown

Dr. Amy Eyler, Washington University in St. Louis, has done some really exciting research into how schools around Missouri are able to share their facilities with the greater community.  What policies are in place, what are the challenges, how can the Missouri Safe Routes to School Network and individuals around the state help?

Recently Dr. Eyler presented a webinar summarizing her research to the Missouri Safe Routes to School Network. Now you can watch a recording of the webinar at your convenience, or download Dr. Eyler's powerpoint presentation:

Ready to take the next step and help your school or school district adopt a better joint use policy?  This page lists the resources and guides you need to help create an effective joint use policy or agreement.

About the webinar
Community use or "joint use" policies outline the availability of school playgrounds, gyms and other recreational facilities for use by the community. These policies can facilitate physical activity opportunities, particularly if communities lack recreational facilities, parks, or safe places to play. The purpose of this webinar is to describe results from a study conducted to inventory these policies in Missouri school districts, analyze the policies for content, and identify correlates of policy components. Recommendations based on findings will be discussed.

About the researchers

Amy A. Eyler, PhD is an Associate Research Professor at Washington University in St. Louis in the Brown School of Social Work and the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis. She has been the lead investigator for the Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN) for the past 6 years. Her research centers on state and local policies that have the potential to increase community level physical activity.

Erin Swaller, MPH Student, conducted much of the research and worked together with Dr. Eyler to compile and analyze the results.

Summary of research and conclusions about joint use policies in Missouri

Some of the main points Dr. Eyler makes in her presentation:

  • “Joint use is a way to increase opportunities for children and adults to be more physically active. It refers to two or more entities — usually a school and a city or private organization — sharing indoor and outdoor spaces like gymnasiums, athletic fields and playgrounds” -Prevention Institute and Berkeley Media Studies Group
  • Why joint use?
    • Youth Development
      • Physical Activity
      • Schools Provide Central Access
    • Community Development
      Community Use of Schools helps promote community health
      Community Use of Schools helps promote community health
      • Physical Activity
      • Community Involvement
    • Shared Space
      • Churches, Government Use, Nonprofits
  • The analysis:
    • 515/519 out of 525 School districts included in analysis
    • 378/525 Districts found to have Community Use Policies (71%)
    • Two main templates for joint use policies in Missouri; most schools followed one of the two:
  • Conclusions:
    • The majority of districts have some type of formal community use policy.
    • The most common policy comes from the MSBA template.
    • Size of district is a significant factor is presence of a community use policy.
    • SES and rurality were not significant factors.
  • Recommendations:
    • Improving the templates can influence the district policies.
    • More study is needed at the school level.
    • Tracking how districts use these policies (e.g. finding out who applies) would help identify the use of facilities.
    • Promoting Community Use among districts and schools is a way to increase access to physical activity and community connectedness.