School districts and municipal organizations increasingly see shared use agreements as one of the most promising strategies to create opportunities for physical activity within a neighborhood or community. Making use of playgrounds, fields, and gymnasiums that would otherwise not be open after hours for basketball games, Zumba, yoga classes or other types of activity allows for a more efficient use of public space and money, and is an almost effortless strategy against childhood obesity, particularly in lower income communities. Studies have also shown that the number of children who are physically active outside of school is 84 percent higher when schoolyards are kept open for public play. 

As part of our work to create safe, healthy communities where all people have the opportunity to be physical active, the Safe Routes Partnership is committed to advancing shared use agreements in local communities across the country and at the national level. We play a key leadership role with Voices for Healthy Kids, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association, which seeks to reverse childhood obesity by 2015 through proven research and advocacy strategies. The Safe Routes Partnership serves on a team of content experts, focusing on Active Places initiatives to increase access to parks, playgrounds, school gyms, walking and bicycling paths and other safe places to be active. As part of this work, we led the formation of a National Shared Use Task Force composed of a broad array of shared use experts and practitioners across the country whose aim is to elevate the discourse around increasing access to safe places to play and be active. 

In states and local communities, Safe Routes Partnership staff work with local leaders and organizations to facilitate shared use agreements with schools, faith-based institutions, hospitals, and other community spaces – particularly in underserved communities where there are fewer opportunities to be active.

As the trend of shared use spreads across the country, easy access to up-to-date information and resources is key to ensuring that shared use agreements become an indispensable part of any community’s toolkit to improve public health and increase physical activity. This website is designed to improve access to shared use resources to aid communities and school districts in developing successful shared use agreements by establishing a comprehensive, easy-to-use, searchable online clearinghouse. With hundreds of resources already categorized for easy searchability and new resources being added as they are developed, the clearinghouse will provide a space for existing shared use efforts to connect to each other and help elevate the national discourse around shared use.