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Healthy Parks Healthy People US

Healthy Parks Healthy People US events are taking place all over the country. While organized events are important in encouraging physical activity and environmental stewardship, individuals can contribute to the cultural change that Healthy Parks Healthy People US promotes. Additionally, Healthy Parks Healthy People US supports and is supported by various other movements such as Let's Move!, Let's Move Outside!, America's Great Outdoors, Discover the Forest, and more.

All over the country, parks are hosting events for the public.

  • Fort Dupont Park and the District Department of Transportation work together to sponsor the one-day Feet in the Street event. For an entire day, there are various activities ranging from a garden tour to a boxing demonstration, and access to the roads around the park is restricted to bikers and walkers.
  • Every winter, the rangers at Grand Teton National Park create a reporters desk out of snow and broadcast lessons about winter ecology to schools throughout the country. The program has even reached students in Florida where snow is a pretty foreign idea.
  • Walking the Badlands works with local 4th grade classes to get kids into the parks and to encourage healthy choices among the students. The program takes one semester to complete and has received fabulous reviews from all the students.
  • As part of the Tu Parque, Tu Salud program, Gateway National Recreation Area hired summer interns to promote health and fitness activities in the Spanish speaking communities of Brooklyn and Queens. The program is funded in part by the American Heart Association and has gotten off to a great start!
  • The Kids in Parks program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has created a Trail TRACKer database of 8 trails and 1 frisbee golf course that bring kids and families outdoors and teach them about their environment. Kids are instructed to track their hikes online, and once they do so, they are sent prizes such as a bandana and a nature journal.
In addition to these public events, the National Park Service is still learning and growing. Check out information from a recent gathering of the NPS Office of Public Health Interns!

The Modern-Day Mather Hike: A microgrant opportunity to engage Park and health leaders through inspired hikes in America’s National Parks

Background: Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service (NPS),
was a visionary and early advocate for the preservation and conservation movements.
Starting in 1915, the year before the NPS was created, Mather hosted numerous
backcountry trips in current-day national parks (e.g. Sequoia, Yosemite) for politicians,
businessmen, journalists, and other opinion makers.1 These hikes were critical for
inspiring influential leaders and congressmen, generating support and funding for the
NPS, and for promulgating Mather’s vision to the American public.

Healthy Parks Healthy People US: Many parks (national, state, and local) were
initially created, not only to preserve landscapes, but also to promote health.2 In
September 2010, Director Jon Jarvis established the NPS Health Promotion Initiative to
rejuvenate and raise awareness for the role of public lands in improving the health of our
nation. National parks are model settings to promote physical activity, healthy eating,
and mental health, while also demonstrating how human health is interdependent on the
health of all species and our environment.3 To inform this initiative, the NPS hosted the
Healthy Parks Healthy People (HPHP) US summit on April 5-6, 2011 with 90 invited
stakeholders from diverse backgrounds.

Program Objectives:
1. Provide a unique, low-cost forum to further the energy and enthusiasm generated at
the HPHP US summit on regional, sub-regional, and local levels.
2. Inspire community leaders in multiple sectors to share common ideals and values and
engage in meaningful dialogue about public lands and public health.
3. Challenge community leaders both intellectually and physically.
4. Stimulate the development of innovative, inter-disciplinary demonstration projects.

Program Description: Through a competitive process, 10 microgrants ($500 each) will
be awarded to NPS units for organizing inter-disciplinary modern-day Mather hikes to
promote HPHP discussion among community leaders. Hikes should be completed no
later than September 30, 2011, include at least one overnight stay, and have no more than
20 total participants. Funds may be used to help defray the costs of food, travel, and/or
staff time to organize the event. All awarded NPS units will be recognized on InsideNPS
and the HPHP website ( as
inaugural Modern-Day Mather Hike grant recipients and health promotion pioneers.

Deliverables: A final report summarizing the Mather Hike/meeting, including a
participant list and all project ideas discussed and next steps, will be due on November
15, 2011. Outstanding and innovative project ideas will be considered for FY12
implementation grants (up to $5K) from the NPS Office of Public Health.

Submission Guidelines: Interested NPS units should e-mail a brief proposal (no more
than 2 pages) and a letter of support from the park superintendent to David Wong by
COB, July 1, 2011. The proposal should contain the following elements:

 Name of NPS unit and region
 Hike leader and contact information
 Hike details, including dates, trail names, round-trip distance, and overnight
 Brief description of what the NPS unit hopes to gain from this meeting (limit 100
 List of organizations committed to participate (include names and titles of specific
attendees, if known)
 Amount and source of additional funds, if any

Selection Criteria: Proposals will be reviewed and scored using the following criteria:
 Breadth of organizations committed to participate (4 points)
 Clarity of the proposal (3 points)
 Additional funds secured from partners (3 points)
 Achieving overall diversity among awardees (e.g. park regions and unit
designations) (2 points)

Notification: Grant awardees will be notified of selection no later than July 8, 2011.

Funding Source: NPS Office of Public Health

Contact Information: CDR David Wong, MD, Chief, Epidemiology and Health
Promotion Branch, NPS Office of Public Health, 505-248-7806,
1. National Park Service. Parks and people: Preserving our past for the future. Available at
2. Fisher T. Frederick Law Olmsted and the campaign for public health. Available at
3. American Veterinary Medical Association. One Health: A new professional imperative.
Available at