Healthy Parks Healthy People Initiative
The Regional Parks Foundation is pleased to support Healthy Parks, Healthy People, an initiative of the East Bay Regional Park District. Healthy Parks, Healthy People is an international initiative to promote public awareness about the clear linkage between individual and community health and accessible, well-managed parks. With more than half the world’s population now living in urban, developed areas, and younger generations spending more time connected to technology than the outdoors, understanding this linkage between parks and health is more important than ever.
Healthy Parks, Healthy People was founded by Parks Victoria, Australia. It has been embraced by 35 countries who share a mission to get people to use parks and benefit from our connection to the natural environment through parks – even as the world becomes more urbanized. The initiative responds to alarming health trends toward childhood obesity, diabetes, depression and other maladies. Children are at special risk as sedentary lifestyles have removed them from a connection with nature and the outdoors as a component of healthy exercise. Many immigrant and disadvantaged communities don’t realize the opportunities available to them at the parks.
As the largest network of urban regional parks in the nation and an internationally-recognized leader in park development and management, the East Bay Regional Park District has a special leadership place in the effort to educate the public about the vital role parks play in nurturing individual well-being, community health, and a sense of community pride.
We will take the messages of Healthy Parks, Healthy People to the 2.5 million residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties to encourage people to use the parks for physical and mental well-being, especially reaching out to children, seniors, urban residents, and ethnic groups that may not be using the parks as often as the general public. Bottom line: We want to get more people to the parks and ensure we are getting the next generations to the parks – it's a health issue!
EXERCISING OUR LEADERSHIP ROLE
We will encourage public awareness and participation through several key programs, including Trails Challenge, Kids Challenge, Family “Learn to Camp” and Junior Ranger programs, Junior Lifeguard Camp, and recreation programs including yoga outdoors, walking for health and fitness, kayaking, and rowing.
VOLUNTEERS GIVING BACK
Encouraging volunteerism is also beneficial: people want to give back to nature and make the world a better place to live, so we’ve tailored 14 volunteer programs to engage the public in a multitude of ways. Programs include habitat conservation and natural resource protection, monitoring wildlife populations, creating nesting habitat, and planting tree seedlings. The endowment-funded Ivan Dickson program draws partners from the local community to maintain trails. School groups, businesses, community organizations, families and individuals join in caring for the parks, whether hands-on or by assisting with education, special events, or safety in the parks.
For more information about Healthy Parks, Healthy People, including Park District events, click HERE.