Our Parkscriptions program throughout Whatcom County has continued to witness growing success. As our county-wide Public Health Campaign continues to grow. to have the public use our website WhatcomParkFinder.org to “self-parkscribe” to find new parks for themselves to get outside. The campaign also encourages more providers to engage in the program through our messaging and at the request of their patients. Our focus demographic is on the identified population in the Community Health Improvement Plan of underserved seniors in our community.
The main event that launched our public-health campaign was Whatcom Parkscriptions Day, on April 28th and we are happy to report that it was a success, with 150 participants. The free event was an opportunity for the people in our community to connect with positive outdoor experiences, and reap the many proven health benefits of time spent in nature. There was a featured activity at 16 different parks with a mixture of programming including: Walk with a Doc, A Walk in the Park, Park Ranger Walk, Forest Bathing, PediCab with YMCA, and Fit School. All participants received a sticker that read “I Got My Dose of Nature”. Whatcom Parkscriptions Day coincides with the National Parks RX Day in April of every year.
We continue to face challenges in learning the best way to help providers find ways to work Parkscriptions into busy appointments, as well as finding simple ways to track the number of prescriptions both made and filled. Through our provider surveys completed in 2018, we learned that patient response is positive overall; half the providers are making verbal parkscriptions without using the website and prescribing for a variety of reasons. We found that 50% were for physical health, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, pain, and injury recovery and 75% were for mental health, mainly for anxiety and depression.
We are launching our Parkscriptions.org website in the coming months. In partnership with Park Rx America in Washington DC, WhatcomParkFinder.org will be incorporated into our website for users. The simple tool for providers to send park information to patients as a reminder to log their visits to the park will remain the same. As noted above, the goal of the Public-Health Campaign is to encourage the public to “self-parkscribe” as well and search for a park that fits their needs. We have a list of activity groups and outdoor programs for people to participate in at low or no cost. The website also has a resource library of articles and videos on the health benefits of nature.
We are pleased with the progress of this comprehensive launch throughout Whatcom County and for the program to become contagious and get more people outdoors enjoying the benefits of nature.
Enjoy these pictures from Whatcom Parkscriptions Day:
Parkscription Day Headquarters, Zuanich Point Park
Parkscription Day Headquarters, Zuanich Point Park, Squalicom Boathouse: Parkscriptions Day HQ was an opportunity to learn from event sponsors at an info fair and to take part in a variety of fun activities including: PediCab tours with the YMCA; demo by Silver Sneakers with refreshments by Humana; Walk with a Doc with Dr. Wu, Family Care Network; and Carol Frazey from Fit School
Hovander Park, Walk with a Doc: Hosted by Dr. Meg Lelonek of Family Health Associates, Family Care Network
Lake Padden, Nutrition Therapy walk with Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator Dr. Jennifer Berdinka
Lake Padden, Women’s Mountain Bike Ride
As Parkscriptions Program Director, Elizabeth Nelson brings passion for community health by promoting the positive connection and health benefits of time spent in nature. She has a broad range of experience in running her own business, nonprofit and government organizations. Her program management, graphic design and marketing skills combined with her background in community health bring a unique perspective to her work. She enjoys hiking, running, playing soccer, and exploring new trails with her two daughters.