The connection between parks, public lands and health takes the national spotlight next week as National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis hosts a cross-sector Healthy Parks Healthy People US forum in the Golden Gate National Parks.
America’s national parks are often imagined as faraway destinations for special vacations. We’ve set aside places like Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone as getaways unrivaled in majesty and glory. I worked in many of these parks during my 12 years with the National Park Service and have often reflected on President Franklin Roosevelt’s reminder that the fundamental idea behind national parks is “the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”
As rates of chronic disease among children have skyrocketed over the past few decades, pediatricians have increasingly looked for solutions beyond the clinic. Sometimes that means actually prescribing time outside. Special correspondent Cat Wise reports from Oakland on the medical evidence that indicates escaping modern urban life, even temporarily, can yield health dividends.
Alcatraz, known as the Rock, was once among America’s most fearsome prisons, cut off from the free world on a windswept island in San Francisco Bay. Today it is a national park, visited by 1.4m tourists a year, who amble around the famous cellblocks and take selfies against the bars. Until October, if they venture to a derelict building on the island’s north side, they will also encounter giant images of serving and former prisoners.
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