Partnering with doctors and other health care providers to prescribe time outdoors. Parkscriptions connects patients with positive outdoor experiences for healthier lifestyles and improved mental and physical health.
Sunday, April 28th is Whatcom Parkscriptions Day an annual celebration of our Parkscriptions program serving Whatcom County- connecting patients with positive outdoor experiences for healthier lifestyles and improved mental and physical health in our public parks.
Are you a healthcare provider looking to participate in Parkscriptions? Check out this page:
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 symptoms relating to anxiety, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Being outdoors supports 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 have expanded to 51 providers aiming to make 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 always looking to include more health care providers.
Please contact Todd Elsworth at 360-739-8458 or Todd@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
Greg Anderson MD, Laura Fox DO, Ian Bonner MD, Karen Okeefe MD, and Melana Schimke MD
Family Care Network – Family health Associates
Rodney Anderson MD, Edward Bloom MD, Jessica Bloom MD, Deborah Hall MD, Ryan Honey MD, Kellie Jacobs MD, Sharon Kerlin ARNP, Meghan Lelonek MD, and Miriam Shapiro MD
Family Care Network – Ferndale Family Medical Center
Renay Fredette MD, Jennifer Bates MD, Rebecca Brejcha ARNP, John Hruby MD, Stephen Lewis MD, Erin Maloney PA-C, Claudia Rey MD, Bertha Safford MD, Kalani Snyder MD
Family Care Network – Squalicum Family Medicine
Shelby Hein MD, Harry Herdman MD, Heather Honey MD, Lillian Pavlik ARNP, Joy Welty MD
Family Care Network – North Sound Family Medicine
Sarah Herrman ARNP, Rory Bradt DO, Lisa Brodsky ARNP, William Eiford PA, Anneliese Floyd MD, Elizabeth Gaylord ARNP, Patrick McLaughlin MD, John Raduege MD, Jason Short MD, Vicki Short MD, Mary Swanson MD, April Wakefield-Pagels MD, Chao-ying Wu MD
Tapping into Natural Wisdom
Rene Laventure, Ph. D.
Sea Mar Health Educator
Baker to Bay Physical Therapy & Wellness
Bellingham Physical Therapy
John McWilliams, Clare Jones, Natalie Johnson, Thomas Eby
Natural Way Chiropractic
Eddie Hanson, Brian Covey, Adam Klassen, Allan Sheen
Fyzical Therapy and Balance Center
Katy Smith & Barbara Karabin
Bellingham Natural Family Medicine
Health Promotion Northwest: Employee Assistance Program
Leslie Finch, LMFT
PeaceHealth Medical Group Nutrition and Diabetes Clinic
Jennifer Berdinka RD,CDE
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 Todd Elsworth at 360-739-8458 or Todd@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.
If you are interested in supporting the pilot Parkscriptions program, we are encouraging you to sponsor the work financially. Download our Parkscriptions Partnerships (PDF) to choose the level of support you can offer.
Parkscriptions posts from our blog, The Confluence
Parkscriptions: A step by step with Dr. Zarr, Parks Rx AmericaNew features on WhatcomParkFinder.org have been released by our platform providers at Parks Rx America. Watch the video with founder Dr. Zarr as he describes his step by step approach to using the Park Finder tool in his practice. See how easy it is to actually prescribe nature in a clinical setting. What do you... Read More →
Parkscriptions Day- Bus Trip and Walk Through Stimpson Nature ReserveJoin Whatcom Smart Trips Sunday, April 28th on a bus trip to Stimpson Nature Reserve for a walk in the woods. Traveling by bus is an easy way to get to parks and trails throughout Whatcom County. Let us show you how easy it is to get to Stimpson Nature Reserve. Group will meet at the Downtown... Read More →
2018 End of Year Report – Parkscriptions programLaunching our Parkscriptions pilot program throughout Whatcom County has witnessed growing success. To review: In 2017, we had 5 health care providers in our pilot program; in early 2018, we had increased our engagement to 40 providers to help us develop the program; at the end of 2018, we are proud to have increased our... Read More →