Park Health Ambassador Experience
Anyone can tap into the Power of Parks for Health! Check out the information below to get some insider tips on how to plan a healthy experience in nature —as an individual, an organized group, or virtually.
Use #PowerofParksForHealth and #BeforeAfterParkRx in captions and posts.
Also include #FindYourPark #EncuetraTuParque #HealthyParks #ActivePeople #NationalParkWeek #PositivelyWell.
- Create an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook post for each event: Be aware that each application has a different audience and unique reach.
- Engage with your audience: Mention and tag partners and participants. Create interesting captions, while also interacting and replying to comments.
- Keep hashtags consistent and relevant: It is much easier to track social media activity and engage if all organizations and events use the same hashtags
- RSVP your event to share your Park Health Ambassador activity with the world. All RSVPs will be featured on our Park Health Ambassador map.
- Share the prewritten or prerecorded media messages with participants and partners through social media outlets, email chains, or web posts.
- Write a blog post or article describing experiences from park programs on human or ecological health.
- Coordinate with community staples such as parks, schools, restaurants, etc.
- For public events, remember to ensure all skill levels are welcome while accounting for inclusivity for all participants. Partnership and collaboration are very important for achieving goals. Try to find a local partner that is already working in the community.
- Organize guided group walks from clinics, recreation centers, or community staples to parks or on walking paths
- Organize basic exercise sessions that empower people to be able to do them on their own
- Seek support from local health providers
- Seek out sponsors and others who can not only provide operating capital but can also provide political support
- Coordinate volunteer stewardship projects such as trash pickup, clearing trails, and beautifying the park
- Organize speakers to talk about the importance of visiting parks and public lands for the benefit of taking care of one’s health
- Start a dialogue with your community partners to create local programs. The key to success is a committed group of volunteers that are passionate about their community’s health and wellness to head an event. Collaborate with volunteer organizations that also may be able to provide free educational or instructional resources. Before the event, introduce yourself to the health community by attending conferences, tabling at events, etc.
- Consider using springboard events for creating new partnerships and working groups in your community to help sustain programs that connect people to parks and health improvement. Incorporate an activity that gives back to the environment, like planting, to illustrate the symbiotic relationship that we have with nature. Engage young people in conservation and preservation of parks and their health.
- Hold your event on a specified date; possibly even aligning with commemorative days in your local national park or any other type of park, forest, or greenspace.
- Choose the ideal setting for your event. Think about locations with easy access to communities and public transportation nodes.
- Contact and involve the managing park agency as a part of this process. If you do not know who owns the park, call your local county government offices or parks and recreation department.
- You may need to complete and submit a park permit for your event. Depending on the managing public land agency, permits may be submitted up to a year in advance. This may impact your desired park location.
- Consult ADA.gov for proper accessibility guidance.
- Invite health practitioners and community leaders to bring their followings to the event.
- Consider what activities would be relevant to your target audience and whether the park allows these types of activities.
- Invite and engage community organizations to players in the planning process and to provide feedback for what will work with the community. Have multiple community organization lead activities if possible.
- Include safety and hazardous messaging.
- Be sure to ask questions such as the following:
- What are the goals and themes?
- What do you want participants to get out of this event?
- What do you want participants to walk away thinking/feeling/knowing?
- How do you plan to empower people to participate in the event?
- Have check-ins to make sure appropriate progress is being made.
- Where will you host the event?
- Who are your partners?
- What resources do you need?
- Who will help promote the event?
- Planning/Logistics Team: If you are planning a large event, consider collaborating with others to divide the following among the team:
- Securing park permits
- Invitations to dignitaries
- Setting event schedule for day
- Coordination of partner organizations with activities
- Coordination with event crew
- Planning for visible first aid station, security, etc.
- Set up and clean up
- Promotional materials (e.g. save the date email invitations, flyers in English, Spanish, and other languages relating to the community, briefings for special guests, local dignitaries, park and health agency directors).
- Schedule for the day: It will be wise to also include a rain plan.
- Offer healthy foods and beverages for the public
- Consider not selling plastic bottled water, and instead working with a local entity to provide potable water so participants can refill their reusable water bottles.
- First aid area
- Event crew support
- Tables, chairs, and tents (check if permitted)
- Rental of a stage/riser, sound system and speakers, podium
- City Street permits if there are large street closures or mobile vans during the event.
- Volunteer support
- Local police security if determined by the anticipated number of people
- Have separate receptacles for recycling and trash.
- Local health care providers, including:
- Primary care physicians, pediatricians, physical therapists, art therapists, music therapists, nurses
- College students studying public health, medicine, physical therapy
- Local and state health departments
- Health insurance companies
- Health educators
- Health related NGOs
- Hospitals and Clinics
- US Public Health Service Officers
- Community members from various sectors and interests with shared goals to promote the role of parks to promote people’s health:
- Local and state public land agencies
- Community leaders
- National Park Service and local environmental, recreational, and community nonprofit organizations
- YMCA chapters, Boys and Girls Clubs
- Local businesses (to donate: food, beverages, tools and equipment, raffle giveaways, etc.)
- Outdoor retailers
- Schools and colleges
- Transportation planners
- Senior citizen groups
- Fire and police departments
- Interfaith community - churches representing multi denominations
- Events will catalyze more discussions and dialogue regarding the connection between health and parks. To help show the impact made, please:
- Document your event with photos and share on social media channels.
- Encourage event participants to share their experiences on social media as well.
- Document how many people participated in your event.
- Evaluate your event for improvement and lessons learned.
- Thank partners for their commitment to the day and for their sustained partnerships with parks.
- Ramp up your collaboration to include a wider audience for the next event
- “Parks” is a broad term to include many types of parks with green space/open space where people can participate in active and/or passive recreation. Parks may include: city/local parks, county parks, regional parks, state parks, and all types of national park units, including national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, preserves, seashores, and recreation areas. Parks also encompass national forests, national grasslands, agricultural areas; national wildlife refuges; recreation trails, landmarks, historic sites; state forests and nurseries.
- The health benefits of nature go beyond just physical health. There are well-documented benefits of nature that improve mental health, spiritual health, and social health. Having both active and passive recreation opportunities in parks allow for people with different abilities and preferences to reap the health benefits of nature. Active recreation includes any individual or group activity such as walking, hiking, running, biking, skateboarding, rock climbing, horseback riding, dancing, organized sports, and playground activities. These active recreation activities may improve physical and mental health of individuals. Passive recreation includes more low impact activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, Pilates, stretching, reading, art (painting, photography, sketching, nature journaling, poetry, song, etc.) fishing, wildlife observation, stargazing, attending an outdoor music/performance/play, picnicking, etc. These passive recreation activities may improve mental/emotional and spiritual health of individuals.
Looking for more tips, tools? Here are some resources we developed with partners to support your needs.
- Youth Outdoors: For the Love of Nature is a partnership between the NPS and the YMCA. Youth Outdoors brings children and teens to nearby public lands, national parks, cultural and historic sites so they can experience the fun and health benefits of outdoor play. What's the best way to get started? Explore our Toolkit of ideas for program curriculum and activities for children and teens, case studies with innovative engagement tools, best practices for outdoor partnerships and resources to build a parks and YMCA connection in your community.
- Public Lands Engagement: Wellness in Nature Guidebook.This guide provides tools, tips, and real-world examples for planning and executing health and wellness activities during events on public lands. It was made through a collaboration between the National Park Service, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), and the US Forest Service.
This toolkit includes resources for healthcare providers, park managers, community members, and public health professionals. Looking for park prescription pads, infographics, or the universal ParkRx logo to use in your own work? This is the place for you!
- Host a Walk with a Doc event or Find a walk near you!
- Check out our Public Lands Engagement: Wellness in Nature Guidebook
- Check out ParkRx.org, for case studies and tools for creating a formal park prescriptions (ParkRx) program in your community.
- Host a Healing Hike
- Host a park inspired Art Therapy workshop
- Bring the outdoors inside with Find your virtual park and explore your favorite national parks virtually.
- Practice mindfulness by downloading a mediation app
- Take yourself on a virtual camping trip. Set up your tent/pillow fort, project a campfire, and play nature sounds on a speaker.
- Try using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets to take a walk in nature to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Check out YouTube for 360-degree virtual hike videos.
There are plenty of e-Adventures to choose from:
Hide & Seek
and Forest Bathing.
Then remember to share your experience with others:
Last updated: April 2, 2021