Opening the Doors for Health: School Administrators’ Perceived Benefits, Barriers, and Needs Related to Shared Use of School Recreational Facilities for Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Shared use agreements (SUA) that allow the use of public school facilities by the community are recommended as a key public health strategy for increasing physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to examine the current nature and extent of SUA in Ohio, as well as school administrators’ perceived benefits, barriers and needs.


School administrators were recruited to respond to an e-mail survey through the predominant state-level professional membership organization’s listserv in September 2013.


Respondents (n = 96) were mostly superintendents who reported a lower prevalence of formal SUA (38.5%) than informal (65.6%), with a total of 9.3% reporting neither formal nor informal SUA. The most commonly perceived benefits included improved relationships with taxpayers and community organizations and increased PA options. Top barriers were costs and liability concerns.


According to this sample of school administrators, their doors are open to some extent, but the majority SUA were informal agreements. Advocacy efforts for SUA should include the passage of a state-level law that provides reasonable immunity from liability. Outreach to the school community should include examples of written formal agreements, innovative cost management examples, and updated research on the connection of PA to learning and academic performance.

Chace ( is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health, Wright State University, Dayton, OH. Vilvens is with Buckeye Health Schools Alliance, Ohio.

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