Shared Use Initiative
Shared use agreements are an affordable way of increasing opportunities for physical activity in low-resource communities where there may not many obvious places to play or exercise.
The PRCHN established the Shared Use Initiative in Cleveland was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Initiative. This local grant was in partnership with HIP-Cuyahoga, where the PRCHN serves as the anchor institution for the Healthy Eating and Active Living Sub-Committee. Six neighborhoods in Cleveland and the City of East Cleveland were identified as predominantly African American with considerable health disparities linked to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and disjointed links to quality health services.
From 2015-2018, our team increased access points for physical activity by working with resident teams to identify 22 facilities and outdoor spaces within their community and then assisting those organizations with the development of shared use agreements and marketing resources to assist them with programming.
Why It Matters?
Access to opportunities for physical activity is important for everyone to be in good health. However, there is an unfair burden of poor health in under- resourced, low-income communities. These neighborhoods often lack adequate opportunities for physical activity which can contributes to poor health outcomes. Existing facilities, open green spaces, and community recreation areas are often locked or poorly maintained due to concerns of cost, vandalism, or security. Facilities such as churches and schools often sit empty during non-program hours and spaces can be re-utilized through shared use.
Cuyahoga County neighborhoods suffer from systematic oppression and other social determinants that create poverty and discrepancies of access and resources, which promote poor community health. These very same communities that are at greater risk for overweight and obesity have far fewer parks and open spaces — it’s not an issue of choice but accessibility.
The Shared Use Initiative in Cleveland is one innovative way to improve access to physical activity opportunities. By working within existing community resources, this initiative helps to improve the health for residents in our most vulnerable neighborhoods.
Why Shared use?
Shared Use recognizes health disparities and addresses health inequities through implementing policies for recreational use in primarily disadvantaged communities. Shared Use partnerships offer innovative ways to improve physical activity opportunities in schools, community centers, worksites, faith based organizations, and other entities. Through utilizing existing structures and resources, shared use is a cost-effective and time saving strategy. By creating an environment of accessibility, shared use policies mediate residents’ limited access to physical activity and improve their ability to make healthier choices.
Shared Use allows public and private property owners to open their underutilized facilities for community use. It allows community access to property by permitting the partners to share the costs and risks associated with opening the property for after-hours use. Although often used as a strategy to increase opportunities for physical activity, shared use has many wide-ranging benefits such as, community health, affordability, equity, and education. Shared Use builds stronger community relations through informal interaction, organized activities and becoming healthier together.
Ready to Get Started?
The adoption of shared use policies in safe community sites can increase resident access to facilities and opportunities for physical activity. We propose strategies that not only facilitate development of new shared use policies through training and technical assistance, but also promote the agreements currently in place, employing community leaders to ensure programming matches needs of local residents. For a full detail about how to implement a shared use initiative, please review “Shared Use Policy Implementation: A guide to improve access and opportunity for physical activity in your community. “
The PRCHN REACH staff developed a series of resource guides to help community and neighborhood groups navigate all of the potential pitfalls and requirements of developing, implementing, promoting shared use agreements in their neighborhoods. Click each graphic to download or view detailed descriptions here.