The Effects of a Park Awareness Campaign on Rural Park Use and Physical Activity

J Public Health Manag Pract. Sep/Oct 2017;23(5):e25-e28. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000471.


To examine the effects of a park awareness campaign on park use in 6 community parks. One-group pretest-posttest design. Six community parks located in a South Carolina county. Children, adolescents, and adults observed in community parks. A 1-month awareness campaign that culminated in single 1.5-hour events at 6 parks in April 2011 and May 2011. The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities was used to objectively measure park use in May 2010 (baseline) and May 2011 (postcampaign). Zero-inflated Poisson models tested whether the number of total park users and the number of park users engaged in sedentary, walking, and vigorous activities differed by observation date. Park use was significantly greater at baseline than postcampaign (97 vs 84 users, respectively; χ = 4.69, P = .03). There were no significant differences in the number of park users engaged in sedentary (χ = 2.45, P = .12), walking (χ = 0.29, P = .59), and vigorous (χ = 0.20, P = .65) activities between baseline and postcampaign. Although only 97 and 84 people were observed across all parks at baseline and postcampaign, a total of 629 people were observed during the 6 separate 1.5-hour campaign park events. This suggests that there is potential for greater park utilization in these communities, and important questions remain on how to conduct effective awareness campaigns and how to harness interest in park events for the purpose of contributing to future community-wide physical activity and health promotion efforts.