Public Schools Could Double As Neighborhood Gyms

09/09/2010 08:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's no secret that Americans could use more active lifestyles, and the answer to that may just be their local public schools, GOOD blogger Nikhil Swaminathan proposes. Though not all of them come equipped with a full set of recreational opportunities, many schools in the U.S. are at least attached to a basketball court, swimming pool or dirt track -- and could be open to the surrounding community when school is not in session.

The reason empty playgrounds and facilities haven't previously been utilized as community parks, the Swaminathan explains, is that the attendant liability issues force schools to shy away from advertising their availability. Though many of the amenities in public schools are funded by tax dollars, the schools are not prepared to deal with lawsuits from people injured exercising on their grounds.

Because of the obstacles to public school access, communities have to build other parks and facilities to provide for outdoor activities -- a venture that can amount to a waste of resources. If public schools can adjust their liability statutes, they could have the opportunity to simultaneously foster healthy living and community involvement.


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