How You Can Help Families Get Healthy
April 01, 2019
Lisa Beach

Research on the physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors continue to mount. Studies have demonstrated that time in nature may help prevent childhood obesity as well as serve as a useful tool to manage attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

It's more important than ever to help families eat healthier and exercise more. If you're someone who plays a front-line role in influencing healthy behavior, you can help moms, dads, and kids make better choices.

Looking for the perfect opportunity to jumpstart your efforts? Help families celebrate National Public Health Week from April 1-7. Held annually by American Public Health Association, this  initiative aims to bring communities together highlighting issues important to improving our nation's health.

One of the campaign's themes focuses on the power of prevention, providing a natural segue to talk with families about making healthier choices. In particular, help them understand how the environment affects their health and well-being. Many times, moms and dads want to do better—they just don't know how. That's where you come in.

For starters, share some talking points (and actionable ideas) with families, such as:

  • Exposure to nature can reduce stress levels by as much as 28 percent in children.
    Take action: Get outside together as a family to soak in nature, whether it's enjoying a backyard butterfly garden or hiking on a nearby nature trail. Need some ideas? Download the Get Into Nature for Better Health brochure to share with families wondering what to do and where to go outside.
  • There are more than 20,000 parks and 11,000 playgrounds in U.S. cities.
    Take action: Need help locating a nearby park? Search the database at Find Your Park, a collaborative effort between the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service. No green spaces nearby? Head to your nearest playground. To find one nearby, use the free Playground Buddy app that makes it easy for families to get outside and get active together.
  • When kids are more connected with their food source (such as through gardening), they're more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.
    Take action: Whether families plant a garden at home or classrooms create a school garden, kids love digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and watching their gardens grow. Need some inspiration? Read about how Project Produce Garden sparked healthy lifestyle changes at Glenvar Middle School in Salem, VA. No time or space for your own garden? Visit a local farmer's market with your kids weekly to pick out fresh produce.

NEEF wants to help you help families get healthier and enjoy the outdoors. Grab your free toolkit and resources, many available in both English and Spanish. Get up-to-speed with our free training session titled Children and Nature Initiative: Rx for Outdoor Activity. If you need catchy visuals to share with families, download our Children & Nature Infographic.

Lisa Beach is a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Eating Well, USA Today Go Escape Florida & Caribbean, Good Housekeeping, Parents, and dozens more. Check out her writer's website at