240803 National Park Service Health Promotion Initiative: Strengthening the nexus between public lands and public health

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:50 AM

Diana Allen, MCRP , Office of Public Health, National Park Service, St. Louis, MO
David Wong, MD , Office of Public Health, National Park Service, Albuquerque, NM
Melanie Larson , Office of Public Health, National Park Service, Washington, DC
Charles Higgins, MS , Office of Public Health, National Park Service, Washington, DC
Background: A growing body of evidence suggests that human health is linked to the health of our natural world. The National Park Service (NPS) Health Promotion Initiative, established in September 2010, seeks to develop a strategic roadmap to guide how parks and partners can best contribute to the health of our nation. Focus areas of the initiative include physical activity, nutrition, and mental health promotion.

Methods: As initial steps, the NPS Health and Wellness Steering Committee commissioned two priority activities: 1) Development of a baseline inventory of Service-wide health promotion programs offered since January 1, 2005, and 2) Hosting a 1.5-day meeting in April 2011 with ~80 stakeholders from diverse backgrounds.

Results: Based on a review of NPS databases, we identified 190 park-based health promotion programs representing parks in all 7 NPS regions; 105 additional community-based health promotion programs were developed with the assistance of NPS. Of these 295 programs, almost all focused on increasing physical activity; 11 programs focused on improving nutrition, and none mentioned mental health promotion as a significant program goal. Approximately 40% of programs—primarily community-based ones—involved collaboration with health organizations. For the stakeholders meeting, invited participants represented corporations, foundations, government agencies, and health/recreation researchers; key findings and themes will be presented.

Conclusions: The NPS is already engaged in myriad health promotion activities. Most programs are focused on physical activity and have limited involvement with health partners. Increased collaboration with health organizations is critical for gaining credibility with the general public and expanding program content and reach.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the 2010-2011 National Park Service (NPS) Health Promotion Initiative. 2. List health promotion programs currently underway at NPS units. 3. Discuss opportunities for partnership between health organizations, researchers, and the NPS.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 15+ years experience with community and recreational planning. I am one of the lead NPS employees organizing the NPS Health Promotion Initiative, project database, and the April 2011 stakeholders meeting.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.