Recreation Northwest is partnering with doctors and other healthcare providers to prescribe time outdoors. Parkscriptions connects patients with positive outdoor experiences for healthier lifestyles and improved mental and physical health.
There is a growing consensus that nature has many health benefits, from increased physical activity to mental, emotional, and community health benefits.
- Nature exposure has demonstrated benefits for general wellbeing as well as for specific outcomes including anxiety and depression, as well as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Being outdoors is proven to help a wide range of physical health issues, including increasing physical activity in children, increasing vitamin D in people of all ages, and decreasing blood sugar for diabetics.
- Public parks and green open spaces have social, economic, and environmental benefits for our surrounding communities.
Recreation Northwest shares the belief that every person should enjoy in the abundance of opportunities for healthy active living.
As noted in the 2013 Whatcom County Community Health Improvement Plan, people in Whatcom County are generally healthy, but there are challenges in particular pockets of our community.
- Low income, lack of work, limited education, geographic isolation, and minority racial or ethnic backgrounds are factors that correlate with less opportunity for good health and higher risk for poor health.
- Rates of overweight and obesity are growing, especially among low income, racial/ethnic minority groups and outlying & unincorporated areas of the county.
- Racial/ethnic minority and lower income populations live in areas with fewer opportunities healthy active living.
- Mental Health is a particular challenge for our community.
Our Community, Our Health
Whatcom County has a strong network of parks and trails and many robust active outdoor programs and we will build on these community assets and strength. Recreation Northwest is bringing together land managers and health providers to move the county forward in its goal of promoting healthy active living.
What is Parkscriptions?
After two years of needs assessment, partner development, and data collection, we have launched our Parkscriptions Pilot Program in Whatcom County. Based on a successful Park Prescriptions program in Washington DC— Park Rx America— we are focusing on the development of educational materials and a comprehensive website of our local parks and trails to serve as the key resource of our program. Check out the draft website at www.WhatcomParkFinder.org
In 2017, Five healthcare providers made 121 prescriptions for time outdoors.
In 2018, we are expanding to 40 providers making 1,000 prescriptions.
Starting in 2019, we envision layering in a new segment of health practitioners and their target patients each year of the program. From our initial conversations the groups we plan to focus on in the early years are the following: Lummi Nation, seniors, kids, veterans, diabetics, obesity, ADHD, post-operation & physical therapy patients and mental health practitioners and patients. Developing bi-lingual resources to reach farm workers is also a goal, as is expanding to more rural sections of the county which will likely need to be paired with efforts to expand the inventory of safe and accessible parks and trails.
If you are a health provider and would like to get involved: We are looking to expand to 40 health care providers in 2018 to gear up for a large public education campaign in 2019.
Please contact April Claxton at 360-223-5262 or April@RecreationNorthwest.org for more info. Or sign-up on our Resources page.
We have posters and patient information for all participating health providers. For our purposes we want to know who is using the program and would also like for you to share some data with us, either through your EMR (we can help you set it up) or with this form. And most importantly, we want to include you in conversations for feedback during this pilot phase. Check out our Provider Resources for more information.
Thank you to the following healthcare providers who are participating in the pilot program:
Family Care Network – Bellingham Bay Family Medicine
Doctors Greg Anderson, Sara Bowling & Laura Fox
Tapping into Natural Wisdom
Rene Laventure, Ph. D.
Sea Mar Health Educator
People from all walks of life enjoy healing and community through nature.
Connect patients with positive outdoor experiences for healthier lifestyles and improved mental and physical health.
Questions? Or to get involved contact April Claxton at 360-223-5262 or April@RecreationNorthwest.org.
Encouraged by growing evidence that spending time in nature improves physical and mental health, we are excited to be a part of improving the health and wellbeing of all Whatcom County residents, especially those with high health needs, through regular use and enjoyment of time outdoors.
Rene Laventure, Counselor, PhD, LMHC
If you are interested in supporting the pilot Parkscriptions program, we are encouraging you to support the work financially. Download our Parkscriptions Partnerships (PDF) to choose the level of support you can offer.