The U.S. Forest Service is offering its 193 million acres of forests and grasslands as a prescription for healthier kids through an initiative of the National Environmental Education Foundation that connects children to nature.
The foundation’s Children & Nature Initiative trains health care providers to take a child’s environmental history and give patients and their guardians a written prescription for outdoor activity, connecting them with a particular forest, park, wildlife refuge, nature center or other public land near their neighborhood. Outdoor activity can help prevent serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes but also can reduce stress and serve as a support mechanism for attention disorders.
“Our nation’s forests and grasslands offer tremendous physical, psychological and spiritual benefits to an increasingly urbanized populace,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “We hope kids and parents alike will follow the doctor’s orders when given a ‘prescription for fun.’”
The initiative gives health care providers the technical support, tools and resources they need to be effective in prescribing outdoor activity to patients. Providers are trained to become “nature champions” for children in their communities.