Health care professionals invited to prescribe nature
On April 24, the first annual National Park Rx Day will be celebrated across the United States and in Tucson to promote the growing movement of prescribing parks and nature to patients to improve health.
In Tucson, City Councilor Karin Uhlich, health care providers, military veterans and Jefferson Park neighbors will walk, bike and run a proposed 1.75-mile health and history loop connecting Banner-University Medical Center to attractions within the historic Jefferson Park neighborhood. Located next to the University of Arizona, the loop is envisioned to provide new recreational opportunities to city residents, patients at the nearby hospital, youth at a nearby school, and students at the University of Arizona. When trail improvements are completed, it will be the first wellness trail in Arizona specifically designed for doctors to prescribe walks.
Where:1802 E Lester Street –next to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson
When: 9 am, Sunday, April 24, 2016
State Rep. and Banner-University Medical Center Tucson Dr. Randy Friese will be among the health care providers attending the kickoff and will write the first park prescription.
"I've always known the health benefits of walking and spending time in the outdoors, and I'm thrilled to prescribe a walk right outside the door of my hospital," said Dr. Randy Friese, a trauma surgeon and legislator who supports the effort to start a park prescription program in Tucson.
The first prescription is going to Iraq veteran Ricardo Pereyda, a member of the University of Arizona Veterans Alumni. "Military life is centered on physical and mental fitness, they go hand-in-hand," he said. "This model of prescribing nature can really take hold in the veteran community. It brings us back to our roots."
"Parks need health partners and public health needs parks," said Cam Juarez, Saguaro National Park's new community engagement coordinator. "Today we are kicking off the vision for a new wellness trail near a hospital, but tomorrow, I encourage you to come to Saguaro National Park. Located just 45 minutes from anywhere in Tucson, you can lose yourself in the wilderness and allow your mind and body to relax and restore yourself in your own backyard national park."
"Our neighborhood designed this health and history loop in response to the stress of development pressures along Grant Road and at the hospital," said Joan Daniels, president of historic Jefferson Park Neighborhood. "We see it as a positive way to create opportunities for improving our health, restoring native plants and learning about Tucson's rich history and culture."
The Regional Transportation Authority, one of the event hosts, supports a healthy lifestyle with new sidewalks and bike lanes that are built as part of the RTA's 20-year multimodal plan and help people connect to parks. "To date, we have completed nearly 150 miles of new sidewalks and nearly 250 miles of bike lanes as well to provide our residents alternatives to driving to parks and other destinations," said RTA Executive Director Farhad Moghimi.
The April 24 event is the culmination of National Park Week, April 16 to 24, when all national parks are free, including Saguaro National Park. The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016 and collaborating on new partnerships to encourage the next generation of park visitors and supporters. #FindYourPark
If you are a health care provider interested in prescribing parks, please RSVP by calling Diana Rhoades, (520) 982-4178, or DianaR@Strategies360.com
Due to hospital construction, space is limited for parking in the area. Visit http://www.jeffersonpark.info/walkride-loop.html to see a map of the loop and join the walk anywhere along the way.
For more information about Park Prescriptions and benefits of nature, visit www.ParkRx.org
THE FOUR MAIN GOALS OF TUCSON'S PARK RX DAY ARE:
″To serve as a catalyst to bring together local health providers, park agencies, community leaders, and nonprofits to begin dialogue and momentum to starting prescription Rx programs across Tucson
″To increase the relevance of parks for all people;how people can connect with parks daily for their improved physical, mental, and spiritual health and create a new generation of park stewards.
″To introduce Tucson residents to a proposed new health and history walking path in central Tucson –funded in part by Banner-University Medical Center, and future grant opportunities,
″Go for a walk with a doc!
Saguaro National Park
Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association
UA Veterans Alumni Association
Banner-University Medical Center Tucson
City of Tucson Ward 3
Regional Transportation Authority