Your Parks Are Protecting You—Are You Protecting Your Parks?Posted on by
In an increasingly urban world, parks, trails, and community green spaces offer benefits for health and wellbeing. As you enjoy these areas, remember that parks cannot protect themselves.
CDC’s Healthy Community Design Initiative (www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces) and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (www.nps.gov/rtca) created the Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook. Planners, parks and recreation professionals, and health practitioners can use this tool to improve parks and trails to increase the health of the community and environment. Understanding the social, health, and environmental advantages parks offer can increase a community’s ability to protect these features.
A Social Community
Parks support community wellness in many ways, such as providing an area for community members to exercise healthy lifestyles and providing a shared, public gathering space that fosters community interaction and support networks. These social benefits may not be obvious, but they are central to the health of a community.
A Healthy Community
The link between parks and physical activity is more obvious. They provide both a destination for walking/biking trips and a place to participate in physical activities. Such settings lower health risk, reduce stress, and improve mental wellness. The new Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook empowers planners and community stakeholders to shape their parks and trails to better serve community health. Health practitioners acknowledge the importance of creating walkable communities, and this workbook is the tool to do just that!
Your Community’s Tool
The Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook helps communities make their park services the best they can be. Citizens, planners, and government officials are now equipped with a powerful tool to improve the social, physical, and environmental benefits parks provide.
Because well-designed parks and trails promote physical activity and provide environmental and mental health benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Park Service created the Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook: A Tool for Planners, Parks and Recreational Professionals, and Health Practitioners.
This workbook, available at http://go.nps.gov/parkstrailshealth_workbook, shows communities how to include public health considerations and community health issues in development or improvement of a park or trail.
The workbook can also help users prepare for a health impact assessment (HIA). It includes information to help users find health data and learn about HIAs that included parks, trails, and greenways.