Legislature Takes First Step to Open School Playgrounds Across the State | Politics
House Bill 431 will allow schools to open up their facilities for children during non-school hours giving access to publicly funded
playgrounds and athletic fields.
Tallahassee, FL (Wednesday, January 25, 2012) – The American Heart Association applauds the House Education K-20 Competitiveness Committee for taking step towards providing opportunities for Florida’s children, who desperately need time for unstructured play and exercise.
The following representatives supported House Bill 431, sponsored by Representative Peter Nehr:
- Representative Erik Fresen
- Representative Michael Bileca
- Representative Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed
- Representative Rachel Burgin
- Representative Charles Chestnut
- Representative Marti Coley
- Representative Richard Corcoran
- Representative Daniel Davis
- Representative Reggie Fullwood
- Representative James Grant
- Representative Keith Perry
- Representative Betty Reed
- Representative Carlos Trujillo
Supporting HB 431 Joint Use of Public School Facilities allows individual schools and/or school districts to enter into agreements with local governments and either private or non-profit organizations to provide public access to athletic fields, classroom buildings, equipment or other recreational resources and allows schools, if they choose, to unlock their exterior facilities during non-school hours.
These partnerships will allow organizations such as local youth sports leagues, YMCAs, after school programs, religious organizations and local government Parks & Recreation departments greater use of taxpayer funded facilities. Each entity desiring to use school resources will enter into an agreement or contract which will cover specifics such as dates, times, equipment needed, repairs, etc. This legislation would also hold schools harmless for liability, except for gross negligence, if they choose to open their exterior facilities to the public during non-school hours.
“We live in a culture of increased childhood obesity and lack the opportunities needed for exercise and physical stimulus which develop children into healthy, strong adults. HB 431 is crucial for the children and for the State,” says Representative Peter Nehr, bill sponsor. “Study after study shows how prevalent the obesity epidemic is. We MUST begin to invest in our children’s physical activity if we are going to invest in Florida’s financial future.”
There are countless studies the link between being overweight or obese in childhood and adulthood. Recent studies have linked Obesity to Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer, and other serious health problems costing our nation approximately $147 Billion dollars a year.
i Annual Medical Spending Attributable To Obesity: Payer-And Service-Specific Estimates Eric A. Finkelstein, Justin G. Trogdon, Joel W. Cohen and William Dietz, July 2009.
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The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will advocate for strategies that promote sound public policy aimed at reducing heart disease and stroke. We have a government relations team in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Learn who your federal and state contacts are and how to reach them for state and local issues.