To the Editor:
As an advocate for the American Heart Association I want to recognize a small step taken by the Legislature that could lead to huge gains within our community. Too many communities in Oklahoma lack access to facilities like parks where children and adults can be physically active. With Oklahoma’s obesity rates rising to above 30 percent, the problem is growing faster here than in others states. Physical inactivity and obesity have led to Oklahoma recently being ranked 48th in the nation in deaths from cardiovascular disease. We need to do something now to change our statistics.
As a step to fix this problem in Oklahoma, the American Heart Association and Oklahoma FIT Kids Coalition worked on a bill, authored by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Edmond, addressing liability around shared-use agreements that would allow schools and communities to share recreational facilities. These formal agreements are important to protect both the school and the community group using the school facilities.
With these agreements, community groups would be able to use playgrounds, gymnasiums, pools and athletic fields outside of school hours and help more residents and children get active and maintain a healthy weight.
I want to thank Sen. Treat for being a champion for this issue and applaud Gov. Mary Fallin for supporting a great initiative.