• View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking towards San Francisco at sunrise.

    Golden Gate

    National Recreation Area California

Healthy Parks Healthy People Press Release

Healthy Parks Healthy People
NPS/Dan Hernandez
 

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Date: March 31, 2011
Contact: Howard Levitt, (415) 561-4730

National Park Service Healthy Parks Healthy People US Conference at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

On April 5–6, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis will bring together more than 100 leaders in the parks, health care, medical, and public health fields, as well as business and academia, to look at ways to strengthen the connection between public lands and health. The Healthy Parks Healthy People US meeting, to be held at Cavallo Point Lodge in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is the first of its kind in the United States. The forum will help forge a vision for the role of parks in contributing to a healthier nation.

The Healthy Parks Healthy People US meeting is a continuation of the global conversation on the park and health connection that gained momentum at the inaugural Healthy Parks Healthy People Global Summit in Melbourne, Australia in April, 2010. The convening at Golden Gate is expected to advise the NPS on its unique role in promoting health and help to foster new partnerships.

To view a live webcast of Director Jarvis's opening and closing remarks, and the April 5 morning plenary session, at Healthy Parks Healthy People US at 9:00 AM PDT on April 5 and 11:45 AM on April 6 go to www.ustream.tv/channel/hphpUS. Follow the event and join the discussion on Twitter at #hphpUS.

The fundamental value of nature as integral to our health as a species is one of the precepts underlying the establishment of the national park system. As Director Jarvis pointed out in a recent speech at the Harvard School of Public Health, the connections between personal health and parks have been evident since public parks were conceived in the 17th century. A growing body of research has documented the significant health benefits of time spent in nature and exercising outdoors. While certainly not a panacea, parks have the potential to play a major role in addressing the nation's current health crisis reflected in the alarming increase in heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

In recent years, examples of parks being utilized as places of health and wellness by medical practitioners have begun to appear throughout the National Park System, as well as in state, regional and local parks. From the "Medical Mile" in Little Rock, Arkansas, facilitated by the NPS Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program, to a "Park Prescription" partnership between Porter Health and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, to the Children & Nature Network, to the new health-based messaging of the East Bay Regional Park District in the San Francisco Bay Area, medical professionals and parks are beginning to team up for mutual benefit.

In September 2010, Director Jarvis established the National Park Service Health Promotion Committee, chaired by Captain Charles Higgins, Director of the NPS Office of Public Health. This committee has planned and organized the Healthy Parks Healthy People US meeting at Golden Gate, and is tasked with helping shape the follow-up to the meeting, and helping explore new opportunities to link the NPS mission to the health of the nation. The NPS Health Promotion Committee has created a web page with information and resources on Healthy Parks Healthy People US. Visit the site at www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp.htm

Along with the obvious connections between exercise in parks and personal health, Healthy Parks Healthy People US will also look at ways that food served in parks can support the health of park visitors.

The Healthy Parks Healthy People US forum at Golden Gate draws on some of the key points of emphasis in the recently released America's Great Outdoors report, and also reinforces First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative. To further reinforce the parks/health connection, this year's theme for National Park Week (April 16-24) is Healthy Parks Healthy People.

The Institute at the Golden Gate, a co-sponsor of Healthy Parks Healthy People US, is a partnership of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its nonprofit support organization, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The Institute at the

Golden Gate has been working on the parks/health issue for several years and has produced two seminal publications on the topic, Park Prescriptions and Food for the Parks. To download these publications visit www.instituteatgoldengate.org. In addition, the Institute has hosted several forums and working groups on these topics. Visit www.parksconservancy.org/our-work/igg/areas-of-focus/ to view video clips from these meetings and learn more about the Institute's initiatives.



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