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Published on December 03, 2007

Playground Renovations Linked to Children's Physical Activity

University of Colorado Denver receives grant to disseminate research

DENVER (Dec. 3, 2007) - Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver have found that redesigned and recently built playgrounds in the Denver area, referred to as Learning Landscapes, have significantly increased children's physical activity levels. The research was conducted over the last two years by design faculty and researchers at the UC Denver College of Architecture and Planning and the Children Youth and Environment Center for Research and Design who recently received a $50,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to disseminate their findings on the impact of Learning Landscapes on children's physical activity levels.

Learning Landscapes are comprised of grass playing fields, age-appropriate play equipment, trees, shade structures, gateways, artwork, gardens, traditional play elements and non-traditional play elements. The landscapes function as local public parks providing much needed green space and social gathering places while fostering pride for neighborhood communities.

"In our evaluation and research, we found that Learning Landscapes are influential factors on children's physical and creative activities," said Lois Brink, founder of Denver's Learning Landscapes and professor of Landscape Architecture at UC Denver. "Replication of these successful playground renovations in other parts of the country is an important step to increasing children's physical activity and decreasing childhood obesity."

Professor Brink and Beverly Kingston, the research associate on the study, indicated the RWJF grant will aid in dissemination of the research results regarding an increase in children's physical activity on the Learning Landscapes playgrounds as well as in the promotion of the implementation of the Learning Landscapes model in other localities such as a Learning Landscape project currently underway at an elementary school in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans.

"Here in Denver, we are involved in various Safe Routes to School efforts and working closely with Denver Public Schools to continuously tailor existing Learning Landscapes to the needs of the community," added Brink.

From 1998 to 2006, the Learning Landscape initiative has transformed 56 neglected Denver public elementary school playgrounds into innovative and safe multiuse parks tailored to the needs and desires of the local community. The program has had the help of 8,000 community volunteers in erecting the 56 playgrounds, while reaching more than 18,000 students and 250,000 city residents.

For more information, visit the Children, Youth and Environment Center for Research and Design (CYE) online on the UC Denver College of Architecture and Planning website. The University of Colorado Denver is one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. Located in Denver on the Downtown Campus and at Ninth & Colorado Blvd., and on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., University of Colorado Denver is Colorado's premier research university offering more than 100 degrees and programs in 12 schools and colleges and serving more than 28,000 students in Metro Denver and online.

For More Information Contact:

Tonya Ewers