Efforts of a Kansas Foundation to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health by Funding Community Trails, 2012
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Efforts of a Kansas Foundation to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health by Funding Community Trails, 2012

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    Trails are associated with increased physical activity; however, little is known about the process of building trails by various types of organizations. From 2005 through 2012 the Sunflower Foundation: Health Care for Kansans (Sunflower) funded multiple organizations to construct 70 trails of varying lengths and surfaces in municipalities, schools, and communities across Kansas. The purpose of this study was to assess the process of developing and implementing community trail projects across Kansas with funding from a public foundation.


    In 2012, we stratified funded organizations by type and conducted proportional random sampling to select 20 key informants from those organizations to participate in structured telephone interviews. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two researchers coded interview transcripts according to issues identified by participants.


    Issues associated with trail-building identified as important were collaboration among groups, unexpected construction costs, champions for the project, and level of difficulty of construction. Participants indicated that trails facilitated physical activity. Trails were integrated into communities through events such as walking events and other promotional efforts; these efforts were thought to increase trail use. The perceived outcomes of building the trails included providing the community with a physical activity resource, inspiring the community to start additional trail projects, and increasing the physical activity of local residents.


    Sunflower’s funding was instrumental in developing trail projects to provide new physical activity resources across Kansas. Public health practitioners seeking to increase physical activity should seek funding from foundations that focus on health.

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