In celebration of June is Recreation and Parks Month (JRPM) communities across BC have been hosting nature-based activities to highlight the health benefits of nature, but the momentum doesn’t need to end with the month.

JRPM is celebrated annually as an opportunity to recognize and promote recreation and parks as essential to the health and wellness of all British Columbians.

Time in nature has significant health benefits. A growing body of evidence shows how important nature contact is for health, including reducing rates of anxiety, depression, heart disease and stroke.

This year, BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) collaborated with Park Prescriptions (PaRx), Canada’s national, evidence-based nature prescription program, an initiative of the BC Parks Foundation, to help raise awareness of the multiple health benefits of spending time in nature.

New Resources for Nature Activities

Thanks to this collaboration, a new toolkit was created and launched during JRPM2023 that can be used year-round to support activities in nature. The toolkit includes quick fact sheets about the health benefits of nature, and easy ideas for activities to help connect people to nature for their health and well-being.

6th Street Play Area in New Westminster BC, recipient of BCRPA’s 2023 Provincial Awards of Excellence in the Parks Category.

One of these toolkit resources is a worksheet that guides individuals as they design their own nature habit, including creating a weekly green time goal and tips for how to incorporate and prioritize nature time into their current lifestyle for their health.
Take a look through the resources for inspiration to connect with nature!

Creative Celebrations

From nature scavenger hunts and picnics to planting vegetable gardens and photo contests, BC communities have taken ideas from the toolkit to host nature-based activities to highlight the health benefits of outdoor time and champion the PaRx program.

The collaboration between BCRPA and PaRx has even sparked the formation of new working groups within Recreation and Parks Departments to incorporate more nature-based activities into routine programming.

“We are thrilled to be working with PaRx to support our members to connect to better health through spending time in nature,” says Katie Fenn, CEO of BCRPA. “We know that being connected to one another, being physically active, and spending time outside in our beautiful parks and green spaces is a powerful way to improve your health and celebrate June as Recreation and Parks Month.”

The Power of Nature

As Canada’s national nature prescription program and champions of nature as a health-based intervention, PaRx plays a key role in the JRPM initiative and beyond.

PaRx aims to make nature prescriptions easy and effective for both prescribers and patients by featuring practical, evidence-based online resources like quick prescribing tips and printable fact sheets, as well as an achievable green-time target of “2 hours per week, 20+ minutes each time.”

“When I prescribe nature, key factors in my patients’ ability to fill their nature prescriptions successfully are knowing where to go and what to do outdoors,” says Dr. Melissa Lem, Director of PaRx. “Recreation and parks workers play an incredibly valuable part in bridging that gap. PaRx could not be more delighted to partner with BCRPA to activate and engage communities across British Columbia to head outside for their health this June.”

JRPM celebrations recognize the power of nature for our health and well-being and encourage British Columbians to connect with nature every month of the year.

See you outside!

Top Image: Surrey’s Edgewood Park, recipient of BCRPA’s 2023 Provincial Awards of Excellence in the Parks Category.

About PaRx
The BC Parks Foundation launched PaRx in November 2020, starting in British Columbia, then expanding to every province across the country. Over 11,000 prescribers have now registered within Canada, including over five per cent of all practising physicians in the country.

PaRx is endorsed by more than 80 health and parks organizations, including the Canadian Medical Association, the first national physicians’ association in the world to formally endorse a nature prescription program.

About the Author
Laura Hergott is the PaRx Coordinator for the BC Parks Foundation, managing the national nature prescription program. With a background in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Laura was drawn to PaRx by the evidence-based research backing nature prescriptions. As an outdoors enthusiast, she is passionate about making nature more accessible for others.To learn more about the PaRx program, send Laura an email.