Two of the greatest pleasures in life are totally free: outdoor exercise and worship.

And yet, for some reason, the federal government has deemed these things are just so great for impoverished communities, it is incredibly important that we spend hundreds of thousands of people to utilize one to convince people to do the other.

Does this not seem a little bit patronizing, not to mention wasteful?

The National Institutes of Health has forked over nearly $700,000 to the RAND Corporation for the sake of utilizing Catholic churches in Latino communities of Los Angeles to try to get their parishioners to…go to the park.

The Washington Free Beacon has the story:

“Public parks comprise local infrastructure that can be leveraged for community PA [physical activity], but tend to be underutilized, particularly in low-income communities,” according to the grant for the project. “Parks in low-income and minority communities tend to have less PA programming, especially targeting adults, and higher crime and other factors that affect park use. There is a need for interventions that address community concerns, target the built environment, and ‘activate’ park use.”

Enter churches: Researchers believe they can co-opt their “vast social networks” and “moral authority” to get Latinos to exercise.

“Churches are credible, stable entities that have significant reach within Latino communities and a history of social service provision and advocacy related to health and well-being,” the grant states. “Our research has found that church-based interventions can be effective across a wide range of health issues and types of churches.”

The study, which began last month, will develop a “multi-level” and “inter-sectoral” intervention joining Latino Catholic churches with local parks. Approximately 1,500 parishioners in Los Angeles will be recruited for the project.

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The researchers plan to appeal to the church’s “moral authority” and employ church-led fitness events and trips to the park and progress will be measured by the waist circumference, body fat percentage, and mental health of the parishioners.

To what end…is unclear.

How to use the church to manipulate people? How to combat the pervasive threat of obesity in Latino-majority Los Angeles Catholic churches? (I think that was one of Hillary’s key points on her campaign platform) If it is possible to treat a group of adults like little children on a field trip?

Lord knows. But what I do know is that this is an awfully big pile of dough to spend on getting people to go to the park. It’s also a perfect example of the way big governments seem to think that it is their responsibility to hand-hold grown, self-determined adults and teach them the basics of life.

If a big government thinks they need to tell full-grown American adults where the park is, what else do they think they need to determine for us?

 

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