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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend creating or enhancing access to public places for physical activity.(1) Schools, community recreation centers, malls and parks are community assets that can be used as places for physical activity. Concerns about safety and access before or after hours of usual operation can be addressed in part by policy changes.(2) By removing financial barriers all community members and families will have access to such facilities for recreation and play.
The cities of Shoreline, Seattle and Sunnyside have formal agreements with their school districts to assure the best use of public facilities for the community and enhance programs of community recreation.(3,4) Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle School District recognize that they have "mutual interests in helping young people learn and develop recreation skills and in providing opportunities for people of all ages to participate in recreation activities.” The agreements outline plans for priorities, scheduling, staffing, fees, dispute resolution, training, maintenance, operation, improvements and liability. They address use of athletic complexes, gymnasiums and pools. In Shoreline the school district and the city agree to maintain an insurance policy to cover liability issues and to indemnify and hold each other harmless against any claims, suits, actions or liabilities.(4)
The cities of Pasco and Renton cooperate with their school districts for joint development of land and facilities. In Pasco, the land use policy directs the city and school district to jointly develop and operate school playground/park facilities in order to economically meet needs for neighborhood parks and improve school facilities.(5) In Renton, the city and the school district are instructed by land use policy to jointly develop multiple use facilities such as playgrounds and sports fields whenever practical, and encourage community use of school sites and facilities for non-school activities.(6)
Washington’s assets of water, mountains and forward-thinking towns and cities provide unique opportunities for physical activity. At the Seattle Center, the International Fountain was replaced and expanded to make it safer and more enjoyable for children to play in. The hard iron nozzles and surrounding sharp-edged rocks were replaced, and now children actively play in the fountain bowl and venture up to the silver dome. The Park and Recreation Department in Moses Lake, with help from Basic American Foods, provides guides to boat launch sites, scenic loops and flora and fauna along the new Moses Lake Water Trail. At Marymoor Park in Redmond, park visitors enjoy the use of a climbing wall with routes for all abilities. In 77 Washington cities, from Aberdeen to Yelm, skate parks encourage physical activity.