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Many D.C. Public Schools Aren't Currently Opening for Neighborhood Recreation

The Numbers

The recreational use of D.C. Public School facilities by community groups and residents is unevenly distributed throughout the city. The underutilization of facilities at schools in Wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 tracks with the high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases in these areas. In short, a large percentage (90%) of K-8 schools open their grounds for many educational and social activities, but this level drastically falls when looking at just recreational use – to 50% in Ward 8, 36% in Ward 5, and 25% in Wards 4 and 7.

The chart summarizes all the public school shared use agreement activities, both recreational and other activities, such as educational, social, civic, and development in all eight wards. Of the schools in wards 4, 7, and 8, 91% have entered into shared use agreements in the past two years; only 73% of schools in Ward 5 enter into these agreements. However, when looking at the data for only recreation-specific activities, the percentage drops to 50% for Ward 8, 36% for Ward 5, and 25% for Wards 4 and 7.


The District needs to ensure residents in all wards have equal access to clean and safe places for recreational activities. Research confirms that active kids make healthy communities.

Overweight 5-year-olds are
more likely
to become overweight
of D.C. residents are overweight or obese.

In Wards 7 and 8, that rises to > 72%


1 in 4

get the recommended
60 minutes of exercise every day.
Did you know that kids who are physically active get better grades?

Research shows that students who earn mostly As are almost twice as likely to get regular physical activity than students who receive mostly Ds and Fs. Physical activity can help students focus, improve behavior and boost positive attitudes. Do what you can to help your child be physically active.

More than half of all adults living in D.C. are overweight or obese; rates climb to over 72% in the District’s wards east of the river (Wards 7 and 8).  Racial disparities with regards to obesity in the District are extreme, for example, less than 1 in 10 white District residents are obese, whereas more than 1 in 3 African Americans in the District are obese. SEE THE NUMBERS

was paid in rental fees by community organizations to the DC Department of General Services (DGS)
for using school recreational facilities
during the 2014-2015 fiscal years.
​​​* This is a gross underestimate due to the lack of complete
contractual information available but this number gives at least a glimpse into the possibilities of shared use revenue for schools.

Shifting these funds from DGS to schools would provide an incentive for principals to open their facilities for recreational shared use and create more opportunities for kids to be physically active.


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