Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sharing Schools -Opening School Kitchens and Recreation Facilities to Improve Community Health and Vitality

Neighborhood schools have long been the center of activity in Colorado communities.Schools across Colorado are engaging their communities in health education and activities by opening their kitchens and recreation facilities to the public after school hours. State law and school policies support the community use of school facilities and many school districts are embracing community use as a way to fight a growing obesity epidemic and reconnect with their local communities.

School recreation facilities offer safe places for children to play, adults to work out or local clubs to compete. School kitchens can support community events, nutrition and cooking classes, or local food preparation. Allowing neighborhood businesses, nonprofit groups and community members to share school facilities can go a long way in improving community health, revitalizing neighborhoods and engaging local businesses. Schools benefit from increased community support and students benefit from improved health and academic performance.

To support this growing trend, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has developed toolkits to guide Colorado schools and school districts considering opening their facilities to community use. Sharing Schools: Community Use of School Kitchens and Sharing Schools: Community Use of School Recreation Facilities outline the benefits, policy considerations and operational needs for implementing a community use program.

To learn more, contact Taber Ward at CDPHE.

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