Photo courtesy of Parks and Recreation, City of Philadelphia
The collaborative program brings together physicians, educators, public health advocates, park and recreation agencies, and other organizations to offer outdoor activity /nature prescriptions for Philadelphia families.
According to our peers at Parks Rx America, there are hundreds of “nature prescribers” across the country. Over the past ten years, this movement has seen an explosion of research and interest. Health care providers across the country are using nature and park prescriptions as form of preventative medicine. Nature PHL is a proud member of this movement.
Our clinical program partners with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to specifically target patients aged 5-12 at annual well child visits. Our clinical workflow begins with patients receiving a screening questionnaire upon their arrival to the clinic. The screening tool our team created is used to categorize patients as low-risk or high-risk for sedentary lifestyle. Using the screening questionnaire, providers are encouraged to provide a universal counseling message about outdoor recreation to patients who are low-risk, and to provide a more intensive counseling message to patients who identified as being high-risk. More intensive counseling includes: (a) an activity prescription bolstered by (b), the distribution of educational materials, as well as (c) the introduction to our website, and (d) the referral to a Nature Navigator.
The Nature Navigator is a community health worker who counsels patient families after their clinic visit to help them adhere to activity prescriptions. The Nature Navigator increases patient and family knowledge, motivation, and adherence to nature prescriptions given by physicians through targeted interventions that address patient needs. The goal of this approach is to increase the amount and quality of time spent in outdoor spaces in and around the Philadelphia area- specifically around four CHOP community clinics. The Nature Navigator uses motivational interviewing to reduce barriers and assist follow-through for patients receiving nature prescriptions.
We aim to increase knowledge of the benefits of being outdoors and knowledge of spaces and opportunities to spend more time outdoors through our online platform at NaturePHL.org. Our platform allows you to search by zip code for amenities and outdoor activities in 400 of Philadelphia’s parks and green spaces. Using this website during the well visit, providers are able to provide counseling that is local/specific and has the amenities to meet a family’s diverse needs.
Partnering with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, we implemented a park assessment project to map and survey each of the over 400 park in the Philadelphia area. This project resulted in our mapping platform. Through our partnership with the Parks and Recreation department, we continue to collaborate on the creation and dissemination of educational materials and programming.
In addition to our clinical program and our online park mapping platform, Nature PHL aims to educate Philadelphians about the health benefits of spending time outdoors through events programming and partnerships with other organizations focused on health and the outdoors.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education partners with Nature PHL to bring programs like our Nature Play Saturdays to community member the first Saturday of every month. Together, Nature PHL and the Schuylkill Center attend a variety of conferences to share the work that Nature PHL is doing to get more people outside and experience the health benefit of an outdoor lifestyle.
Through our partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Philadelphia Field Station we have been able to conduct research on our programming in order to better measure the success of our programming. Additional research and evaluation partners include the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab and the University of Pennsylvania.