Parkscriptions at Options High School Progress Report
Recreation Northwest’s Parkscriptions at Options High School pilot program has completed the first cohort of 9th graders and is midway through for the 12th graders. (Read the overview for more background). We want to give a HUGE thank you to Chris Gerston at Backcountry Essentials for giving us a big discount for purchasing clothes to get this first round of students’ winter weather clothed for our experiences. Not only did they provide us with a discount, but they also prepared their staff for our shopping experience to help the students find the right gear.
It is easy for us at Recreation Northwest to say the first round of the pilot program has been successful. Hearing it straight from the students and OHS faculty/staff, however, has solidified our perspective that we are onto something:
I just wanted you to know these field trips are awesome, I love them! – 9th grade
In all the years teaching AVID, these have been by far my favorite classes. Thank you! – Eddie, 9th-grade AVID teacher
I feel really good after that walking exercise. -12th grader
If you keep going you will end where you are supposed to be. – 12th grader. Reflection during labyrinth exercise on Resilience in Fairhaven park
I wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed this class. – 9th grader
I don’t often get to connect with students in the way I am able to during this class. It has been such a great opportunity to get to know them in a different setting. Even if they are just getting outside and not fully taking in all of the information, I think it is a win. Some of these students are normally reserved, and they seem to be opening up when we are walking on the trails. This has been so valuable. – Joe, 12th-grade AVID teacher
Pictured Below: 9th-grade group in Cornwall Park
Pictured Below: 12th-grade group in Cornwall Park
Pictured below: Students at Locust Beach
- Students have shown an interest in the skills they are learning, asking great questions, making connections, and being respectful of one another as well as nature. Some of them are rambunctious when they get out of the vans before the experience starts but watching them start to play with the natural elements they find and/or seem more grounded at the end of the class has been really rewarding to observe.
- Students have consistently shown up to every class. They have the option not to come if they are not interested. There have been 13 to 16 students in each class every week, with only 3 absences one week.
- Students have learned breathing techniques, using their 5 senses while in nature, what the Blue Mind is (associated with water and the health benefits we gain from it), phytoncides (chemicals that trees produce that boost our immunity), and what we can learn from nature about resilience.
- More than 90% of the students sat quietly on their own for 20 minutes at Locust Beach using the mindfulness/meditation tools discussed in class. (The 10% of students that didn’t, were getting their energy out by throwing rocks into the water or exploring the beach – which I took as a plus since they were playing which is part of nature immersion as well)
We are looking forward to rejoining the students (and meeting a new group of 9th graders) in April!
Recreation Northwest is a 501(c) 3 charity. Our mission: We teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.
As Director of Programs, Elizabeth Nelson brings her B.S. in Public Health, her extensive work with trauma survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, and her own experiences of the positive connection and health benefits of time spent in nature into the Parkscriptions program at Recreation Northwest. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder. She has a broad range of experience running her own business and working in nonprofit and government organizations.