Time spent outdoors supports many aspects of children’s health. Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and are less likely to be overweight. Additionally, new research suggests that play in nature influences creativity, problem-solving, emotional and intellectual development, and may protect against nearsightedness and vitamin D deficiency. Outdoor play is also associated with a variety of other psychosocial benefits.
Recognizing the opportunity to improve the health of Floridians, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Health, and Get Outdoors Florida!, partnered to pilot the Nature Play “Prescription” Project. The overarching goal of the project was to increase physical activity in high-risk populations by increasing the utilization of state parks. The “prescription” granted a one-time, free entry into one of Florida’s beautiful state parks for a child and their family or friends. The pilot project included 10,000 “prescription” passes which were distributed throughout the state between the months of April, May and June of 2014. The success of the program is determined by how many of the “prescription” passes are redeemed.
This was the first time that a state park service, a state health agency, and a non-profit, have partnered to implement a program like this.