Institute at the Golden Gate
Physicians Connect Parks and Health

The Institute is committed to supporting a growing network of medical practitioners, insurance providers, parks and federal lands, and the communities they serve to establish and share best practices to connect healthcare and park resources.

Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Since 2009, the Institute has been catalyzing partnership opportunities into action and helping to make the idea of Healthy Parks, Healthy People mainstream. To this point, the Institute has built a national movement by telling the stories of successful "park prescriptions" programs around the country and inspiring leaders in the parks and health fields to take up the charge. Now that we’ve gotten leaders like Jon Jarvis (Director, National Park Service), Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and others behind the movement, there’s a readiness across the country to act.

In order to better help our partners create new Healthy Parks, Healthy People policies and programs, we’re creating a testing ground here in our own backyard so we can deepen our knowledge of how these partnerships really work and can contribute back to the national and international community of practice. Through a Community Benefit grant from Kaiser Permanente we’ve been able to take the best practices from around the country and implement them in a pilot project in the Bayview Hunters Point. Through an interactive training this spring, that includes visiting the parks in the community and connecting the clinic staff to parks staff, the public health center will become Nature Champions and begin prescribing time in nature to patients of all ages. The clinic staff will then have the tools needed to motivate and empower their patients to get outside to better their physical and mental health, and ultimately create long term behavioral change. We will not only be tracking the prescriptions filled and monitoring the improvement in health of the patients at the Southeast Health Center, but we will also be evaluating the entire pilot project and sharing best practices with communities across the country.

As we've begun to actively promote Healthy Parks, Healthy People locally, parks and health agencies from around the Bay Area began to express interest in coming together to do something big. In response, the Institute is facilitating a the partnership between Golden Gate National Recreation Area, East Bay Regional Parks District, Bay Area Open Space Council, SF Rec & Park, the SF Department of Public Health, and 20 other reps from 6 Bay Area counties committed to leading a Healthy Parks, Healthy People movement in our region. In June 2013 we will launch a coordinated effort to provide approachable, culturally relevant park programming for communities with high health needs that diverse health partners can prescribe and promote.

On an even larger scale, we've begun a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Recreation and Park Association to compare data from pilots around the country and set national standards for park prescriptions programming. We hope this will further solidify Healthy Parks, Healthy People as a policy practice, and provide the evidence and rigor it needs to survive beyond any one administration or individual champion.

To get involved in the Institute's Healthy Parks, Healthy People project, visit the Institute's community hub.

Park Prescriptions

Institute partner Dr. Daphne Miller presented the Park Prescriptions concept at the 2010 Partners Outdoors Conference at Fort Baker.

The Institute’s preliminary case study report, Park Prescriptions: Profiles and Resources for Good Health From the Great Outdoors, is a first step toward this goal.

At a White House listening session on America’s Great Outdoors and health, the Institute highlighted programs from around the country that recruit people in parks to treat and prevent disease.

To learn more or to contribute to the growing collection of Park Prescriptions case studies, you may submit your case study through our online Parks & Health Guide. If you’d like to speak with us about your program, please contact us at or (415) 561-3553.

The Institute would like to recognize American Recreation Coalition for their partnership and thank See Change Health for their generous support of Park Prescriptions.

Additional support for Park Prescriptions comes from: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Park Service, and the Nonprofit & Public Management Center at the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business. The following individuals and organizations have contributed substantial in-kind support and services: Daphne Miller, MD, Michael Suk, MD, Stephen Lockhart, MD, Cavallo Point Lodge, Grove Consultants International, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and the American Recreation Coalition.

Contact Information

Kristin Wheeler