Project Overview
The Urban Schools Physical Activity Study (USPAS) is an initiative of the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana. It is a longitudinal survey studying the influence of physical activity on medium- and long-term health and educational outcomes of adolescents in two urban poor communities in Accra – James Town and Ussher Town.

The study is driven by the need to understand how certain precursors of overweight and obesity impact the phenomena and to address increasing rates of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. As physical inactivity is a strong predictor of obesity, the study aims to study the impact of increasing the frequency and consistency of time spent on physical activities. A related interest regards whether physical activity actually improves educational outcomes. The project is funded by a seed grant from the RIPS Hewlett Foundation Training Grant.

The study uses a quasi-experimental approach to conduct an evaluation of a school-based intervention. Participants were Primary and Junior High School (JHS) students from four selected schools in the study area. After an intervention introducing additional hours of physical education (PE) into the curriculum of the treatment classes, students are followed over time to track changes in the aforementioned outcomes assessed using anthropometric measures, blood pressure, self-esteem and performance on literacy and numeracy tests.

Project Activities
The project officially launched on the 17th February 2015 in James Town. Stakeholders present included community leaders, the Ghana Education Service sub-metro office, heads of schools, and representatives of school Parent Teacher Associations.

The project is partnering with schools to invest in long-term wellbeing of children in the community. As part of the partnership, RIPS donated computer laboratories to each of the schools involved in the project for their ICT classes. The project covered the costs of renovating classrooms and purchasing equipment. Each computer lab is equipped with 12 desktop computers, UPS, a LaserJet printer, internet and an air conditioner.

Primary fieldwork commenced in December 2015 to collect data on baseline characteristics of respondents. The PE intervention started in January 2015 and was implemented by trained National Service personnel. The first of four planned annual follow-ups took place in July 2015.

Project Investigators
Dr. Pearl Kyei
Dr. Naa Dodua Dodoo