Systematic review of how Play Streets impact opportunities for active play, physical activity, neighborhoods, and communities

Systematic review of how Play Streets impact opportunities for active play, physical activity, neighborhoods, and communities

Download the lay summary.
Download the lay summary.

By: M. Renée Umstattd Meyer and Christina N. Bridges Hamilton from Baylor University; Thomas L. Schmid from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Amelie A. Hecht and Keshia M. Pollack Porter from Johns Hopkins University

Physical activity is important for promoting health and preventing obesity among children; however, many families and children live in communities that lack access to safe places for physical activity. Some communities have begun using Play Streets, which are temporary street closures that provide physical activity equipment and activities for children, to provide a safe place for play. This systematic literature review examined how Play Streets impact children, neighborhoods, and communities, while also documenting how Play Streets are implemented and evaluated. Six studies were identified from the peer review literature and included in this review. The findings presented here are based on these studies.

Download the lay summary.

Results

Impact on physical activity

Activities provided at Play Streets included hula-hoops, jump ropes, areas for dancing, bicycles, and balls. Three studies measured physical activity and all three found that children’s physical activity increased during Play Streets. Pedometers, which measure the number of steps taken, and accelerometers, which measure amount and intensity of physical activity, were used to measure physical activity in two of these studies.

  • One study compared children at Play Streets with a control group and found Play Streets increased children’s overall moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by 9.1 minutes per day and reduced their sedentary behavior by 8.6 minutes per day.
  • Both studies also surveyed parents and found that outdoor play and time spent playing outside after school generally increased as a result of Play Streets.

A third study, which used the System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC) to measure physical activity among all people at a Play Street, found 11.3% more children participated in vigorous activity when Play Streets were offered than they did when Play Streets were not offered. The study also found 12.1% more adults were sedentary during Play Streets, which the authors attributed to passive supervision of children at play.

Impact on safety

Five of the six studies examined found that Play Streets and similar interventions provided an active play option with reduced motorized traffic and provision of adult supervision. Five of the studies collected information from parents. One found that 71% of parents reported Play Streets provided safe and supervised outdoor play and 61% reported Play Streets provided a good opportunity for safe outdoor play.

Impact on neighborhoods and communities

Adults felt Play Streets increased a sense of community by strengthening relationships among neighbors and community members. This was confirmed by findings across several individual studies, including:

  • 94% of adults reported Play Streets strengthened their community.
  • 54% of parents reported Play Streets strengthened relationships with neighbors.
  • 61% of parents reported Play Streets were a good way for children to make new friends.
  • Most parents and children had positive feelings toward Play Streets.
    • 43% of parents identified social interaction as the primary reason they liked Play Streets.
    • At least 3 in 4 children reported they enjoyed Play Streets.

Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic findings

Three of the six studies included a majority of participants who were Hispanic or Latino. Four studies also included participants who were either of low socioeconomic status or lower income. The results from these studies show the potential impact of Play Streets in communities with fewer resources to be physically active.

Findings from this lay summary are available in the full article, published in the BMC Public Health:

Umstattd Meyer MR, Bridges CN, Schmid TL, Hecht AA, & Pollack Porter KM. Systematic review of how Play Streets impact opportunities for active play, physical activity, neighborhoods, and communities. BMC Public Health. 2019; 19: 335. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6609-4.

Suggested Citation for Lay Summary:

Umstattd Meyer MR, Bridges CN, et al. Systematic Review of How Play Streets Impact Opportunities for Active Play, Physical Activity, Neighborhoods, and Communities. A Lay Summary. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center; Waco, TX: Baylor University; and Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/systematic-review-of-how-play-streets-impact-opportunities-for-active-play-physical-activity-neighborhoods-and-communities/.

This lay summary was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the lay summary was led by Drs. Keshia M. Pollack Porter from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer from Baylor University.

Examining the Implementation of Play Streets: A Systematic Review of Reports and Publicly Available Information

Examining the Implementation of Play Streets: A Systematic Review of Reports and Publicly Available Information

Download the lay summary.
Download the lay summary.

By: Christina N. Bridges Hamilton, Tyler M. Prochnow, Emily C. Wilkins, and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer from Baylor University; and Keshia M. Pollack Porter from Johns Hopkins University

Physical activity is linked with promoting health and preventing obesity among children, and active outdoor play is highly important for healthy child development. Yet children today do not play outside as much as their parents did. Safety concerns and communities that lack access to safe places for play contribute to this decline in physical activity and outdoor play. Some communities organize Play Streets—temporary street closures that provide equipment, games and a safe, supervised place to play—to help encourage more children and families to engage in active outdoor play. This study systematically identified and reviewed information about Play Streets from 36 sources of non-academic literature, such as websites and local reports, to learn about how Play Streets are typically organized.

Download the lay summary.

Results

Overall findings

The 36 non-academic sources reviewed provided important information about how Play Streets are put on, although the amount of detail available from each source significantly varied. The effectiveness of Play Streets in promoting physical activity or other outcomes was rarely mentioned. Outcomes that were mentioned mainly consisted of the number of people who attended. Non-academic literature on Play Streets could do more to encourage and help other communities implement Play Streets if they included more detail about the impacts of Play Streets and how they are organized.

Participation at Play Streets

Several sources (14 of 36) reported the number of people who participated in a Play Street. Nine sources described directly marketing Play Streets to children and families to encourage attendance. Five sources specifically held Play Streets in communities that lacked access to physical activity facilities, had low socioeconomic status residents, and/or had residents who were people of color. Information on race or ethnicity of the Play Street attendees was not reported by most of the sources.

Effectiveness of Play Streets

Fourteen of the sources included information about the effectiveness of Play Streets. Success of a Play Street was commonly measured by whether attendance increased with each subsequent Play Street held in a certain location. Five sources mentioned that Play Streets improved safety and relationships among neighbors, most often reported through interviews or focus groups. One source reported that Play Streets allowed more than 8,100 hours of physical activity among participating children; however, there was no information about how this was determined. Four sources surveyed participants to ask about their feelings toward Play Streets. Most of the people surveyed (more than 80%) felt Play Streets improved safety and wanted Play Streets to happen at least once per month.

Adoption of Play Streets

The adoption of Play Streets involves understanding what inspired people to host a Play Street. Twenty Play Streets started from partnerships between community advocacy groups and city departments, including those concerned with physical activity (e.g., departments of parks and recreation). Some sources reported they started Play Streets because other cities had them and multiple sources mentioned Play Streets in New York, which were initially founded by the Police Athletic League.

Characteristics of Play Streets

Seventeen sources described the types of equipment and activities available at Play Streets, including hula hoops, jump ropes, bicycles, and hopscotch. How the equipment was used and by whom was not reported by any of the sources. Thirteen of the sources reported the use of staff or volunteers to supervise Play Streets. Seven sources mentioned the cost of Play Streets, which ranged from $312 for a block party permit to $30,000 to host a Play Street with paid staff.

Continuation of Play Streets

Twenty-six sources mentioned Play Streets that happened more than once, and eight sources mentioned Play Streets that only happened once. Six sources mentioned that the people who organized Play Streets wanted to hold them more frequently and/or increase the number of people who participated in them. Fourteen of the sources mentioned Play Streets were only held during the summer months.

Findings from this lay summary are available in the full article, published in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:

Bridges CN, Prochnow TM, Wilkins EC, Pollack Porter KM, & Umstattd Meyer MR. Examining the implementation of Play Streets: A systematic review of the grey literature. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. 2019. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001015.

Suggested Citation for Lay Summary:

Bridges CN, Prochnow TM, et al. Examining the Implementation of Play Streets: A Systematic Review of Reports and Publicly Available Information. A Lay Summary. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center; Waco, TX: Baylor University; and Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/examining-the-implementation-of-play-streets-a-systematic-review-of-reports-and-publicly-available-information/.

This lay summary was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the lay summary was led by Drs. Keshia M. Pollack Porter from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and M. Renée Umstattd Meyer from Baylor University.

Park use and activity among children in low-income racial and ethnic minority neighborhoods in New York City

Park use and activity among children in low-income racial and ethnic minority neighborhoods in New York City

Download the lay summary.
Download the lay summary.

By: Aaron Hipp, Claudia Alberico, Jing-Huei Huang, Elizabeth Mazak, and Myron F. Floyd from NC State University; and Dustin Fry and Gina S. Lovasi from Drexel University

Childhood obesity rates in the U.S. remain high: Nearly one in three young people is overweight or obese. Rates are significantly higher among African American and Hispanic youth than among white or Asian youth, and among youth from low-income families compared to those in higher-income families. These health disparities need further understanding and study so that leaders can recommend programs, environments, and policies to reduce them. Parks and playgrounds provide a free, publicly available resource for play and activity that may lead to a decrease in obesity. There have been few studies specifically examining park and playground use among children of color living in low-income neighborhoods. We conducted 79 site visits to New York City parks in 2017 to understand park and playground use in low-income communities of color.

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Results

NCSU Lay Summary Figure

Our team conducted 79 site visits in 20 different parks in New York City during the spring and summer of 2017. We observed over 16,500 kids ages 5 to 10 years old, referred to generally as children below. One-third were Asian-American, 40% Latino, almost 20% African American. Use was lower in the early afternoon hours, and highest in the early evening (6-7pm) and weekends. Kids were less active in the shade or when weather was warmer.

Areas of Activity

  • Swing sets presented more activity than all other areas of a park, while water/splash features presented the least active areas. Playgrounds generally were another area of high use.
  • Formal organization, such as sports practices or activities with a coach or parks employee, did not occur often in the parks. But, when these programs did occur there were significantly more children in these spaces than not.
  • When an organized activity was happening, more children were present, for example children participating in soccer practice. But overall, children were most likely to be found playing in informally organized areas. Across the 20 parks there were many more informal opportunities than formal opportunities.
  • Handball courts and baseball fields were the spaces least likely to have children.

Differences by race and ethnicity

  • African American children were less likely to be in parks right after school (3-5:30 pm) during the spring. Latino children had the highest probability of being in parks on weekend days.
  • Asian American and Latino children were more likely to be in areas with formal organized activities.
  • Most children were observed using swing sets and playgrounds. This was especially true for Latino and Asian American children, while African American children were most likely to be found on basketball courts.

Findings from this lay summary are available in the full article, published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening:

Marquet O, Hipp JA, Alberico C, Huang J-H, Fry D, Mazak E, et al. Park use preferences and physical activity among ethnic minority children in low-income neighborhoods in New York City. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 2019; 38: 346-353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2019.01.018.

Suggested Citation for Lay Summary:

Marquet O, Hipp JA, et al. Park Use and Activity among Children in Low-Income Racial and Ethnic Minority Neighborhoods in New York City. A Lay Summary. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center and Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/park-use-and-activity-among-children-in-low-income-racial-and-ethnic-minority-neighborhoods-in-new-york-city/.

This lay summary was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the lay summary was led by Drs. Myron F. Floyd and J. Aaron Hipp from North Carolina State University.

Are adolescents less physically active in the summer?

Are adolescents less physically active in the summer?

Download the lay summary.
Download the lay summary.

By: James F. Sallis, Terry L. Conway, Kelli L. Cain, Carrie Geremia, Edith Bonilla, Chad Spoon, University of California San Diego

Children and adolescents gain more weight in the summer than the school year. African American and Latino youth gain more weight in the summer than do youth from other racial or ethnic groups. Some studies have found that youth are less physically activity in the summer, which is surprising because they are not required to sit for many hours in school during the summer. It is unknown whether this seasonal difference varies across race, ethnic, and sex subgroups. The aim of this study was to examine race/ethnic and sex differences in adolescent physical activity, sedentary behavior, and related variables, comparing the school year and summer.

Download the lay summary.

Results

Physical activity

Physical activity rates declined from school year to the summer among all race/ethnic groups and both sexes. Daily physical activity amounts dropped by an average of 14 minutes per day. There were significant racial/ethnic differences in the decline:

UCSD Lay Summary Figures
  • American Indians showed the greatest decline, about 27 min/day, and White non-Hispanics showed the least decline, about 5 min/day. This may be due partly to American Indians being the most active, and White non-Hispanics being the least active, during the school year.
  • The school year to summer decline tended to be greater among boys (17 min/day) than girls (10 min/day), though girls were consistently less active than boys.
  • American Indians, Latinos, and girls were the least active groups in the summer, indicating these subgroups are at particularly high risk.

Sedentary (sitting) time

All racial and ethnic groups were sedentary between 8 and 9 hours per day, which did not differ from the school year to the summer. All groups of adolescents reported more screen time in the summer, except for American Indians. Perhaps screen time increased during summer because enforced sitting time during school was replaced by more screen time in the summer.

Enjoyment of physical activity

All subgroups of adolescents reported less enjoyment of physical activity in the summer. This is a possible explanation of lower physical activity in the summer. Virtually all physical activities are with peers during the school year, so the greater difficulty of organizing activities with peers in summer could reduce enjoyment of summer activities.

What activities do adolescents prefer in the summer?

Walking was the most preferred physical activity across all subgroups and seasons. Exercise (perhaps interpreted as dance exercise) and running were highly rated by all race/ethnic groups, and girls showed strong preferences for water play.

Where do adolescents prefer to be active in the summer?

When asked where they would ideally like to do physical activity, in and around the home were rated highly regardless of season, except for Latinos and White non-Hispanics. Other top choices of places to be active in summer varied across subgroups, although swimming pools were a top choice among Latinos, White non-Hispanics, and girls. Asian/Pacific Islanders and boys preferred indoor recreation facilities. American Indians’ top-rated location was parks outside the neighborhood.

Findings from this lay summary are available in the full article, published in Preventive Medicine:

Sallis, JF, Conway TL, Cain KL, Geremia C, Bonilla E, & Spoon C. Race/ethnic variations in school-year versus summer differences in adolescent physical activity. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105795.

Suggested Citation for Lay Summary:

Sallis JF, Conway TL, et al. Are Adolescents Less Physically Active in the Summer? What are Differences by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex? A Lay Summary. San Diego, CA: Physical Activity Research Center and University of California San Diego; 2019. Available at: https://paresearchcenter.org/are-adolescents-less-physically-active-in-the-summer/

This lay summary was made possible with funding from the Physical Activity Research Center. The research that generated the lay summary was led by Drs. James F. Sallis and Terry L. Conway from the University of California San Diego.

Creative Solutions at the Heart of Rural Communities: Interview with M. Renee Umstattd Meyer

Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity

Full blog originally posted to the JPHMP Direct website.

Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity

PARC’s co-Director Renee Umstattd Meyer recently sat down with JPHMP Direct and Christiaan Abildso to participate in the podcast Views from the Front Porch: Rural Physical Activity.

In her interview, Renee discussed her passion for rural active living and the JHU-Baylor PARC research study on rural Play Streets.

Both Christiaan and Renee got to sit out on their own front porches and discuss this important topic. Check out the video or audio recording!