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NCPPA 's Profile


National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, Inc.
United States

About Me:

NCPPA BloggerMelissa Merson is the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA). NCPPA is the leading force in the country promoting physical activity and fitness initiatives. We are a diverse blend of associations, health organizations, and private corporations advocating for policies that encourage Americans of all ages to become more physically active. Melissa has decades of experience as an innovative communications and government relations professional in Washington, DC. She also is involved in international sports governance for the Olympic sport of triathlon. Melissa is an accomplished triathlete and has competed in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. She is the founder and coach of the Arlington Triathlon Club, a school-based multi-sport training program for public school students. She has won numerous awards for innovative youth and sports development initiatives. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter bringing people interested in physical activity together all over the world.

Recent Posts by NCPPA

Innovative Physical Activity Joint Use Agreements

by NCPPA March 29, 2011

Public park and recreation agencies and school districts in many areas have utilized Joint Use Agreements (JUA) for years. The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN) "defines a JUA as a formal agreement between two separate government entities - stating terms and conditions for shared use of public property or facilities." Pooling of resources allows for more effective use of government dollars, which in today's economy takes on even greater meaning as well as a heightened sense of urgency. Groups advocating for physical activity have recently begun encouraging more towns, cities and counties to consider such agreements as a way to increase the number of physical activity opportunities for their residents.

Consider the following... School playgrounds are open to the community on weekends in San Francisco as a result of a joint use agreement between the school district and the city. The City of Seattle took things a bit further... they designed and implemented a program that centralized scheduling of both school and recreation facilities, which streamlined the reservation policy and increased access. In several communities, schools and cities have combined their resources to build new recreation facilities that serve the needs of both the schools and the community (NPLAN).

The National Physical Activity Plan includes JUAs as important strategies in both the Education sector and the Parks, Fitness Recreation and Sport (PFRS) sector. The Make the Move Report - 2010-2011 National Implementation of the U.S. Physical Activity Plan lists increasing the number of JUAs by 10% over the next 5 years as a priority for the PRFS sector. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition is co-leading this strategy with the National Recreation and Park Association.

I encourage advocates to look beyond government though for JUAs and to consider the possibility of public-private agreements. The Wheaton Park District used an innovative approach to increase their number of (much in demand) soccer fields. A large corporate campus sat at the edge of park district and had plenty of flat (this was Illinois!), green space that was there purely for its aesthetic value. The two organizations signed an agreement that stated the park district would mow the grass in return for its use as soccer fields evenings and weekends. I dare say there are many possibilities like this across the country.

Perhaps there is a private health club located near a school. Use of the club may be sparse during the day... what a great opportunity for a PE class! Maybe there's a camp nearby used only in the summer... strike a deal for use of its athletic facilities. Many places of worship even have recreational facilities. The possibilities are endless to increase spaces and places for people of all ages to engage in physical activity - if you just think the outside the box a bit!

What kinds of unique joint use agreements can you think of? Are there facilities in your own community that you could see working with to increase the opportunities for physical activity?

Tags: ,

Building Healthy Communities | Playing Outside | Recreation

Healthy People 2020 Hits the Trifecta!

by NCPPA January 11, 2011

Asian Family on Bikes

Healthy People 2020's Physical Activity Objectives completes a trifecta of physical activity publications for physical activity professionals, advocates and enthusiasts. The first ever publication of a set of science based, government issued Physical Activity Guidelines were released in October of 2008 and May 2010 brought the launch of the nation's first health plan for physical activity, the National Physical Activity Plan.

The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity is providing the leadership for implementation of the Physical Activity Plan. NCPPA recognized the importance of working to insure that the objectives listed in HP2020 be complementary to those included in the NPAP. Many NCPPA member organizations offered comments on the proposed HP2020 physical activity objectives as did the Coalition itself.

NCPPA recently published our first implementation report; Make The Move, 2010-2011 Implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan. Make the Move details the priorities identified in each of the sectors, states their goals and objectives and how they plan to achieve them and lists a variety of success stores as well.

Many of the physical activity objectives included in HP2020 physical parallel those identified as priorities by the NPAP sector implementation teams. A few examples are included below:

NPAP: Ensure that early childhood education settings for children ages 0 to 5 years promote and facilitate physical activity.

HP2020: Increase the number of States with licensing regulations for physical activity provided in child care.

NPAP: Encourage business and industry to interact with all other sectors to identify opportunities to promote physical activity within the workplace and throughout society

HP2020: Increase the proportion of employed adults who have access to and participate in employer-based exercise facilities and exercise programs.

NPAP: Prioritize resources and provide incentives to increase active transportation and other physical activity through community design, infrastructure projects, systems, policies, and initiatives.

HP2020: Increase legislative policies for the built environment that enhance access to and availability of physical activity opportunities.

The examples listed above are great ideas…but now the time has come to walk the walk rather than simply talk the talk…in other words, work together to make these things happen! Please visit the NCPPA website to sign your organization up to get involved with the implementation of the Nation's first Physical Activity Plan.

What is your organization doing in the areas listed above to increase the number of Americans achieving the PAG?


Healthy People | National Plan

Community Design for Healthier Communities

by NCPPA October 13, 2010

Mother with kids crossing street

Healthy Communities...the term seems to be turning up more and more lately...from reports in the media to city and county council meetings-from the smallest of the states legislatures to the hallowed halls of the United States Congress.  Is it latest buzz phrase or truly a movement?


There are a variety of groups (both government and non-profit) working on healthy communities and each of them have their own interpretation of exactly WHAT a healthy community is.  However, I have noticed one thing that most healthy community discussions seem to include...the need to insure that there are ample opportunities for people to engage in physical activity.  The introductory paragraph for the National Physical Activity Plan's Transportation, Land Use and Community Design sector reads: “Transportation systems, development patterns, and community design and planning decisions all can have profound effects on physical activity. People can lead healthier, more active lives if our communities are built to facilitate safe walking and biking and the use of public transportation, all considered forms of active transportation.” 


Considering how community design affects the amount of physical activity that residents get would go a VERY long way toward positioning individuals to increase their daily physical activity and also plays an important part in creating a healthy community.


Imagine...if all neighborhoods had sidewalks and were well lit....imagine the increase in the number of individuals achieving the amount of physical activity specified for their demographic in the National Physical Activity Guidelines....imagine if all commercial landlords in a community were to insure that office stairwells are open for traffic...and imagine one step further...where the said landlord  (owner or whoever the power that be is) added interesting artwork or motivational signs to the walls in the stairwells.  Imagine if there were bike racks at all train stations-small and large....or if all children were able to walk to school along paved wooded how many more Americans would be reaching the recommended amount of daily physical activity.


The National Physical Activity Plan states that “Changes to improve active transportation will require many individuals and agencies – transportation engineers, city planners, architects, schools, health professionals, government agencies at all levels, community advocates, citizens, and employers – to rethink the way we plan and develop our communities. “  It is imperative that a variety of departments work together even if in the past they may not have always agreed on direction. 


I would love to hear some of non-traditional partnerships that have worked effectively to promote healthy communities.  What plans do YOU have to begin to establish a coalition in YOUR community to work toward making it a healthier one?



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