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Article

School Parks as a Community Health Resource: Use of Joint-Use Parks by Children before and during COVID-19 Pandemic

1
Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, School of Public Health in Austin, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Austin, TX 77030, USA
2
Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health in Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA
3
Parks and Recreation Department, Austin, Austin, TX 78704, USA
4
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA
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Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, School of Public Health in Austin, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Austin, TX 78701, USA
6
Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Víctor Arufe-Giráldez, Rubén Navarro Patón and Alberto Sanmiguel-Rodríguez
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9237; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179237
Received: 9 August 2021 / Revised: 27 August 2021 / Accepted: 27 August 2021 / Published: 1 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Activity in Childhood and Adolescence)
Parks are settings for physical activity that can support the physical and mental health of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. We determined the impact of the pandemic on the use of joint-use parks outside of school hours by children in Austin, TX, United States. In autumn of 2019 and autumn of 2020 (i.e., before and during the COVID-19 pandemic), we used an adapted version of the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities to observe whether children aged 1–12 participated in physical activity (i.e., sedentary, light and moderate, vigorous) at three parks located at schools serving mostly economically disadvantaged Latinx families. In 2020, we also observed whether children maintained social distance and wore face coverings. Results of negative binomial regression modeling revealed the pandemic was associated with a 46% [95% CI: 20–63%] and 62% [95% CI: 39–76%] decrease in the number of girls and boys at parks, respectively, and a 42% [95% CI: 16–59%] and 60% [95% CI: 36–75%] decrease in the number of girls and boys engaging in physical activity, respectively (p < 0.01). In total, 60.6% of girls and 73.6% of boys were not social distancing, and 91.8% of the time no children wore masks. Interventions should be considered to safely reintroduce children to parks for health benefits during pandemics. View Full-Text
Keywords: Youth Physical Activity; shared-use parks; urban greenspace; social distancing; face masks; COVID-19 pandemic; Latinx; communities of color; low-income communities Youth Physical Activity; shared-use parks; urban greenspace; social distancing; face masks; COVID-19 pandemic; Latinx; communities of color; low-income communities
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lanza, K.; Durand, C.P.; Alcazar, M.; Ehlers, S.; Zhang, K.; Kohl, H.W., III. School Parks as a Community Health Resource: Use of Joint-Use Parks by Children before and during COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 9237. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179237

AMA Style

Lanza K, Durand CP, Alcazar M, Ehlers S, Zhang K, Kohl HW III. School Parks as a Community Health Resource: Use of Joint-Use Parks by Children before and during COVID-19 Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(17):9237. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179237

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lanza, Kevin, Casey P. Durand, Melody Alcazar, Sierra Ehlers, Kai Zhang, and Harold W. Kohl III. 2021. "School Parks as a Community Health Resource: Use of Joint-Use Parks by Children before and during COVID-19 Pandemic" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 17: 9237. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179237

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