Healthy Parks Healthy People US
Event: 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 the 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 http://www.ustream.tv/channel/hphpUS. Follow the event and join the discussion on Twitter by using hash tag #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 and at state, regional and local parks as well. 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 by 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.