Newswise — DES MOINES, Iowa – Supporters of a bill known both as “Community Use” and “The Sledding” Bill gathered today in Gov. Terry Branstad’s office to witness the signing of the bill into law.

House File 570, which clarified liability protection for both communities and schools choosing to provide facilities where activities such exercise and sledding take place, passed through both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in late March. Specifically, the Bridging Solutions for a Healthier Iowa coalition, led by the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate, advocated for the change so that schools who wanted to open their doors after hours to their community as a place for physical activity could do so.

“It is truly gratifying to see Iowa Legislators understand this was a necessary change to ensure Iowans had access to facilities that encourage activities that support a healthier lifestyle,” said Stacy Frelund, Government Relations Director – Iowa for the American Heart Association, Midwest Affiliate. “By removing this barrier, schools, in particular, have more opportunities to support healthy recreational activities. The coalition shared studies that show when people have access to exercise facilities they are more likely to be physically active. For some communities, the school is the only place with the space and facilities where people could exercise. The coalition had commissioned a survey of Iowa’s superintendents in late 2014, which demonstrated more than half of the schools surveyed did not engage in community use agreements because of concerns about liability. Almost 65 percent of the surveyed superintendents indicated they would be inclined to open their facilities with liability protection. Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart supported the bill throughout the process. “Our schools are public, and we encourage community use of our facilities,” he said. “PreK-12 education is our number one priority, but we can’t successfully fulfill this mission without partnering with a wide range of community partners. Working together in our schools helps us develop shared understanding and makes better use of the huge investment our communities have made in our facilities.” For more information about the community use initiative, visit