Creating Playgrounds, Where Playgrounds Do Not Exist
A Community Based Approach
Recent emphasis has been placed on the effect the built environment has on physical activity levels of children. Children living in poorly planned or urban neighborhoods (areas with limited room or green space for play, lack of sidewalks and streets that do not connect) have less access to physical activity opportunities. The purpose of this article is to describe a shared venture between a public university, nonprofit organization and faith based organization to increase physical activity among children living in a city with limited open space. A mobile physical activity unit (MPAU), which consisted of a renovated passenger bus with playground equipment, was developed and utilized with the intent of providing safe, age-appropriate and supervised activities and games in a parking lot. Hence, children living nearby had access to a “playground” that was non-existent in their neighborhood. The MPAU was made available to children twice per week for 12 weeks. Attendance rates were high, and parents reported positive feedback. The findings suggest that in the absence of joint-use agreements for access to playgrounds after school hours, innovations such as the MPAU may be effective alternatives to increase children’s physical activity levels.