‘Prescribe Outside’ Launches to Improve the Health of Philadelphia’s Children Through Access to Green Space and Nature

Prescribe Outside
Prescribe Outside is a Partnership Between Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Awbury Arboretum, Let’s Go Outdoors, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and the Temple University Center for Sustainable Communities.

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Prescribe Outside, Philadelphia’s nature prescription program, has launched to provide physicians and families with tools to improve the health and wellness of Philadelphia children. The partnership between Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Awbury Arboretum, Let’s Go Outdoors, USDA Forest Service, and the Temple University Center for Sustainable Communities, helps children locate and use safe, accessible, and convenient public green space and discover the benefits of time spent in nature.

In recent years, the rise of behavioral health concerns among young patients has increased the demands on the healthcare system. Prescribe Outside serves as an alternative for healthcare providers to support their patients by directing them to free, accessible, family-friendly outdoor activities on Prescribe Outside’s website, www.prescribeoutside.org. Designed to address top behavioral and physical health concerns, environmental educators facilitate experiences ranging from creative play and mindful nature walks, to higher-intensity hikes that increase heart rate and improve physical fitness. With new listings each month, the program’s Event Calendar offers drop-in activities at varying times and locations throughout the city, intended to accommodate the busy lifestyle of families with young children and teenagers.

“Prescribe Outside’s mission is simple, to help children and families become healthy and happy by spending time outside in nature and creating safe and enjoyable connections with the outdoors,” said Barbara Rolnick, MD, pediatrician at CHOP Primary Care, Roxborough. “This robust nature prescription program will go a long way in addressing health disparities that exist in the City of Philadelphia. Not to mention, it will result in a break from screen time and devices.”

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The program’s mission is supported by a growing body of literature that points to the healing effects of green space. Studies indicate that access to safe, natural areas improves health across a wide variety of outcomes including cardiovascular health, hypertension, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and stress. Exposure to nature can also improve focus and overall mood. Prescribe Outside’s researchers at the Forest Service and the Temple University Center for Sustainable Communities aim to measure the overall health impacts of the program over time.

“Whether a walk in the woods, a stretch in the park, or a scavenger hunt in the garden, physical activity in green spaces can reduce stress, improve mood, and even lower blood pressure,” added Grace Parker, Prescribe Outside Project Manager of Awbury Arboretum. “The concept of spending quality time in nature is simple, but its impact on both mind and body can be profound.”

With programs currently concentrated at Awbury Arboretum in Germantown as well as the Roxborough and Cobbs Creek neighborhoods, Prescribe Outside intends to expand into additional locations in Northwest, West and South Philadelphia. As the global nature prescription movement continues to grow, Prescribe Outside aims to bring the benefits of nature to children and their families right here in Philadelphia.

For event information, visit their Event Calendar. To learn more, visit www.prescribeoutside.org or contact them at prescribeoutside@awbury.org.

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