Healthy Parks Healthy People US is a National Park Service initiative that is a “holistic approach to promoting the health and well-being of people and the sustainability of the planet.”1 The initiative supports the major health roles that national, state, and local parks play in reducing our society's incidents of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Healthy Parks Healthy People US also seeks to partner with business innovators, healthcare leaders, scientists, foundations, and advocacy organizations to achieve the reintegration of human, environmental, and ecological health.
The global Healthy Parks Healthy People movement met in Melbourne, Australia in April of 2010, which led to the establishment of the National Park Service Health and Wellness Executive Steering Committee in September of 2010. As a beginning point in the US, this NPS Committee organized the first Healthy Parks Healthy People US meeting which was held in April of 2011 at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco, California.2 This forum was co-hosted by the National Park Service, the Institute at the Golden Gate, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.3
The results of this forum were An Ethos of Public Lands and Public Health, a Vision Statement, 7 Guiding Principles, a Strategic Framework, and a 5-Year Action Plan which focuses on 4 areas: Demonstration Projects – Nodes of Innovation, Research and Evaluation, Communications and Education, and Alignment and Synergy.4
Some of these demonstration projects include the Let’s Move Outside Junior Rangers program that expands on First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! Program; collaboration with organizations such as Children & Nature Network, Park Prescriptions, Food for the Parks, and No Child Left Inside; and partnering with the healthcare community and such private sector organizations as Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group.5
Additionally, they launched the Modern-Day Mather Hike micro grant opportunity named after Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service. In the early 1900s, Stephen would organize hikes with politicians, businessmen, and journalists to acquaint them with the need for national parks. This micro grant awarded ten $500 grants in the summer of 2011 to National Park Service units for organizing inter-disciplinary park hikes with opinion makers to educate them concerning the Healthy Parks Healthy People US vision, plan, and possibilities.6
Jon Jarvis, the Director of the National Park Service, in support of the Healthy Park Healthy People US Initiative declared, “Parks are a great untapped resource in fostering health and wellness across the U.S. Our national parks have always been loved for their symbolism and scenery, but we aim to increase the awareness of all parks as places for exercise and healthy living.”7
- 1. “Welcome.” Healthy Parks Healthy People US. < http://www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp.htm > 15 Nov. 2011.
- 2. “News.” Healthy Parks Healthy People US. < http://www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp/HPHP_Conference_2011.htm > 15 Nov. 2011.
- 3. “Healthy Parks Healthy People US 2011.” Healthy Parks Healthy People US. < http://www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp/press/HPHP2011.pdf > 15 Jan. 2012.
- 4. “Strategic Action Plan, November 2011. Healthy Parks Healthy People US. < http://www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp/press/1012-955-WASO.pdf > 15 Jan. 2012.
- 5. Op.cit., “Healthy Parks Healthy People US 2011.”
- 6. “Events.” Healthy Parks Healthy People US. < http://www.nps.gov/public_health/hp/hphp/events.htm > 15 Nov. 2011.
- 7. Op.cit., “Healthy Parks Healthy People 2011.”