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  • Author: Sandy J. Slater x
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Sandy J. Slater, Anmol Sanghera, Yadira Herrera and Jamie F. Chriqui

Background: Head Start serves over 1 million diverse low-income preschool children and is an ideal setting for developing and implementing obesity prevention efforts, which is expected to have positive impacts on behavior as youth age. This study examined how regional- and state-level Head Start offices have supported implementation of the recently updated physical activity (PA) requirement within the teaching and learning environment Head Start Program Performance Standard (1302.31). Methods: Key informant telephone interviews were conducted with 8 regional- and 36 state-level Head Start representatives. Interviews were recorded and professionally transcribed. Data were coded and analyzed using constant comparative methods in ATLAS.ti (version 8). Audit trails were maintained, and disagreements in codes were discussed and resolved among coders. Results: The following 3 overarching themes emerged: communication, resources and technical assistance, and challenges. Results showed variation in respondent knowledge regarding the Standards. Although regional contacts provide technical assistance, state-level contacts have many information sharing strategies for programs. Implementation challenges included the need for frequent professional development opportunities given staff turnover and low PA competency, and additional PA curricula. Conclusion: Findings can help identify existing or potential strategies that could be adopted more widely or developed to assist Head Start programs incorporate PA into daily activities.

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Jeanette Gustat, Christopher E. Anderson and Sandy J. Slater

Background: Spaces that promote play are important for the physical, social, and psychological growth of children. Public spaces, including playgrounds, provide an important venue for children to engage in play. A simple tool is needed to evaluate playground features and conditions. Methods: A simple play space audit instrument to assess the presence and condition of playground features was tested on a sample of 70 playgrounds during the summer of 2017, in Chicago, IL. Duplicate observations were collected on 17 playgrounds. Frequencies of features were tabulated, and reliability of variables was assessed using percent agreement and kappa statistic. Scores were created to summarize playground “playability,” overall and within domains of general overview, surface, path, and play equipment/structure features. Results: The tool demonstrated acceptable reliability with high kappa values between .79 and .90 for all items in domains. The overall score, general overview score, and play equipment/structure scores were correlated with mean playground usage. Conclusions: This brief instrument allows reliable assessment of playground features and their conditions. The scoring method generates a summary of playground conditions and features, which facilitates comparison of playgrounds. This tool has the potential to assist communities in evaluating their play spaces and identifying where to focus resources for improvements.