Getting Your Prescription from Nature on Park Rx Day

 

AtthePark

I’ve discussed nature as a passport to heath in the past and mentioned recent work by Nature, Health, and Wellbeing Ireland and NatureRx.  Back in 2014,  the ParkRx Initiative formed and is now being co-led by representatives from the National Recreation and Park Association, the Institute at the Golden Gate, and the National Park Service. Other participants include a range of local, state and federal agencies that are dedicated to using nature and public lands to improve individual and community health.  The premise is that getting out into nature is the future of preventative health care.

ParkRx Programs

ParkRxLogoTo move the idea forward,  the initiative is focusing on developing programs in all kinds of parks that will encourage everyone to get outside.  At a local level, park managers are working with healthcare providers and community partners to develop programs that will encourage behavior change and ultimately improve individual and community health.

Park Rx Day

The latest effort is the creation of Park Rx Day (April 24, 2016) in the United States.  The Park Service says, “It is a day celebrated across the United States to promote the growing movement of prescribing parks and nature to patients to improve human health. National Park Rx Day encourages everyone to see visits to parks and public lands as very important parts of their health.”  Thus, the day is promoting the work and ideas of the ParkRx Initiative. April 24 is the last day of National Parks Week, so it ties nicely with the free admission and activities happening at the National Parks.

Woman at ParkThose in the know have been developing various activities to support these ideas on Park Rx Day, but if you are learning about it for the first time now,  there is still a bit of time to get something started.  The only requirement to be officially associated with Park Rx Day is to let Anne O’Neill, National Park Rx Coordinator for the National Park Service know about your event.  Her email address is: anne_o’neill@nps.gov.

ParkRx suggests activities like

  • Organized guided group walks from clinics to parks or on walking paths
  • Organized mini fitness classes that empower people with simple exercises that they can do on their own (e.g. low impact [yoga,tai-chi, meditation] or age-specific [older adults, children]).
  • Health screenings with support from local health providers (e.g. blood pressure tests, BMI measurements)
  •  Volunteer stewardship projects such as trash pick up, clearing trails, beautifying the park.
  • Presentations where speakers talk about the importance of visiting parks and public lands as a part of taking care of one’s health.

ParkRx offers a document titled A Guide to Planning Your Own National Park Rx Day Celebration with background, ideas and planning steps to make it all work.

Enjoy the Day

Whether you are an organizer or a participant, get out to a park on National #ParkRx Day and fill your prescription!

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