New Orleans Workshop - Health
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New Orleans Combatting Health Issues with ‘Nature Prescriptions’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON, DC — Healthcare providers in New Orleans participated in a national initiative to improve the health and well-being of children. The National Environmental Education Foundation’s (NEEF) Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity aims to prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes related to indoor sedentary lifestyles and connects children and their families to nature to promote good health, enjoyment, and environmental stewardship. NEEF trained New Orleans area physicians and other healthcare providers on the health benefits of prescribing nature and connecting kids with programs at local nature sites, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS). This workshop was the second of its kind since 2013 in New Orleans, and built upon the collaborative successes and relationships NEEF and NPS have fostered in the community.

The train-the-trainer workshop took place Saturday, June 25, 2016 at the National Park Service's French Quarter Visitor Center, part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Nigel Fields, the park's chief of interpretation and education, and Aleutia Scott, the Barataria Preserve ‘s Interpretive Supervisor, engaged partners from local outdoor organizations and other community partners, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, and the city's recreation department. This project in New Orleans is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“This workshop provided an important opportunity for both health care providers who can prescribe nature to their patients and community partners who provide outdoor opportunities and resources to come together and learn both from the program and from each other about how they can succeed in prescribing nature and overcome the challenges and barriers they are seeing community members face,” said Jane Chang, Program Officer at NEEF. “Everyone left feeling energized and excited about the momentum amongst the partners and eager to reach the members of this vibrant and diverse community.”

Trained healthcare providers will serve as Nature Champions– training their peers to use the initiative’s educational materials on the health benefits of being active in nature and to prescribe nature using the initiative’s Rx for Outdoor Activity. NEEF has trained over 75 health care providers to act as Nature Champions for their communities. In total, they have trained over 2,700 other health care providers in more than 20 locations around the nation.

“There is a growing body of evidence illustrating that “green time” can result in decreased prevalence of various physical and mental health conditions,” explained Sarah Stender, MD, CDE, a Clinical Professor from the University of California, San Francisco and a NEEF Nature Champion. Beyond these quantifiable results, Dr. Stender also shares, “personal reports from patients who are spending more time in nature have revealed that that their sense of connectedness to self, to others, and to the environment have harmonized their well-being, sense-of-belonging, and inner-peace. Though these aspects of being in nature are more difficult to measure and report in the format of “evidence,” they may be the most profound, positive, and intangible effects that underlie measurable health outcomes.”

Daniel Porter, MD, Medical Director at the Lone Star Family Health Center, which is a federally qualified health center, and also a NEEF Nature Champion echoes this sentiment. “Healthcare providers are looking for simple, low risk alternatives to stem the tide of crippling, chronic conditions in our patients. Growing evidence shows that prescribing nature and outdoor activities to our patients can be a viable piece to a multifaceted approach we are going to have to take to address these diseases,” he said. “We are fighting against such strong forces which encourage inactivity, overeating, and social isolation that we need a tool bag full of innovative ideas and prescribing nature is a great start.”

To learn more about the Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity, visit: www.neefusa.org/health/outdoor-activity.

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About NEEF

NEEF was chartered by Congress in 1990 to partner with the EPA to advance environmental literacy nationwide. NEEF’s vision is that by 2022, 300 million Americans actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the wellbeing of the earth and its people. To achieve its vision, NEEF offers science-based, unbiased information through its own communications platforms, as well as a network of trusted professionals and affinity communities that, with their relationships and credibility, amplify environmental messages to national audiences. NEEF also implements environmental education investments in areas that best connect with everyday life: health, weather + climate, and nature where we live, learn, work, and play. Learn more at NEEFusa.org – or follow NEEF on Facebook and on Twitter @NEEFusa.

NEEF Contact

Jane Chang
National Environmental Education Foundation
202-261-6475, jchang@neefusa.org

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. WWKF also works with communities on racial healing initiatives.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

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