“At his office in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician, writes prescriptions for parks. He pulls out a prescription pad and scribbles instructions—which park his obese, diabetic, anxious or depressed patient should visit, on which days, and for how long—just as though he were prescribing medication.
Zarr says it’s important to give concrete advice instead of repeating the vague admonitions (Exercise more! Get outside!) that people are used to hearing. Zarr is part of a small but growing group of healthcare professionals who are essentially medicalizing nature. He relies on a compendium of 382 local parks—the product of meticulous mapping and rating of green spaces, based on accessibility, safety, and amenities—that he helped create for DC Park Rx, a community health initiative. The Washington program was one of the first in the United States; there are now at least 150 others. ‘We work with the doctors, nurses and health care providers around the country and show them why it’s so relevant to prescribe parks and how easy it is to do so that they can make it a part of their daily routine.’ The group refers to this program as Ecotherapy.”
More on Prescribing Nature (2019) By Jennifer Walsh with Beth McGroarty via the The Global Wellness Summit.
*Photo taken in the woods of Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve, Bellingham, Washington.