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Santa Clara County Parks and Health

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“It’s no surprise that being outside in nature helps both our mental and physical health. Parks are a wonderful way to bring nature into our urban and suburban spaces and ensure that people enjoy those health benefits. Parks foster social interaction and bring communities together, w​hich is also good for health!”

— Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer 


A Prescription to Spend the Day in Nature

The Santa Clara County Park Prescription Program is the first Parks Prescription program of its kind in our county that encourages physical activity in park settings with a prescription from a healthcare provider. The goal of the program is for families to explore parks in Santa Clara County, participate in park hikes, and become familiar and comfortable in park settings. There are many reasons why Santa Clara County doctors are joining this national movement to get families outdoors and active:

  • Being in nature can improve your mood.
  • Having access to parks can increase phy​sical activity and combat obesity.
  • ​Contact with nature through parks improves all people's physical, mental and spiritual health.
  • Parks foster social connections which are vital to community cohesion and contribute to social benefits.
  • For children, parks foster active play, which is associated with physical, cognitive and social benefits.
  • For adolescents, parks improve mental and social health during what is often a challenging time in life.
  • Park use is linked to physical and mental health benefits among adults, especially older adults
  • Talk to your doctor and visit Health.gov​ to learn about recommended levels of physical activity for you. ​​

How Santa Clara County Park Prescription Program works:

  • Pediatricians and medical staff interview their patients to assess interest in attending park walks held the first and third Saturday of each month.
  • Interested pediatric patients and their families receive a colorful flyer/park prescription, which is available in English and Spanish. The flyer has the park walk schedule, park locations and serves as a parking pass on the days of the park prescription walks.
  • Interested families receive reminder calls or text messages the week of the park walks. Families are offered transportation to the park if needed.
  • The day of the walk a Santa Clara County Park Interpreter leads the families on a 2 to 3 mile walk in the park. Spanish translation is provided to participants as needed. Pediatricians and medical staff also participate in walks providing encouragement to participants.
  • Families sign in at each walk and participants are celebrated for their participation.
If you are a physician looking for more information about Santa Clara County's Park Prescription Program contact Laurie Bostick Cammon, MD, pediatrician with the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center at Laurie.Cammon@hhs.sccgov.org​.  

Doctor Testimonial 

“Families who participated in the walks have said that they feel less stressed when they are out on one of our ParkRx walks. They still have all of the same barriers and concerns in their lives that existed before the walks, but they come into their visits afterward feeling more hopeful and a bit more confident that they can make healthy, positive changes in their lives.”  

-Laurie Bostick Cammon, MD​, Santa Clara County Medical Center, Hospital and Clinics

Santa Clara County Public Health Department has been awarded a $50,000 Strategic Giving Grant from Health Net to develop a Santa Clara County Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights. The grant is for one year from January 1 - December 31, 2020. The goal is to implement policy and system level changes to address social inequities and increase access to parks and outdoor spaces for all children and families in Santa Clara County. This project would build on our successful Park Prescription work currently coordinated by Public Health Department's Healthy Communities Branch.  By developing and implementing a Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, Santa Clara County children and their families would be introduced to opportunities to be physically active while learning new skills such as biking on a trail, gardening and harvesting fruits and vegetables or boating on a local lake. Our plan is to create a list of outdoor activities/experiences that every child in Santa Clara County should have an opportunity to try. The development of a Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights would serve as a policy lever to address social inequities that prevent children and their families from utilizing parks.

Santa Clara County Parks and Events

Santa Clara County Parks is home to 28 fabulous parks​ and provides outdoor experiences for all ages to discover anytime. Join one of the many events, classes, or programs at your local park. Visit the parkhere.org​ to find a park ​near you! Santa Clara County Parks also offers annual entry vehicle​ passes for low income families and individuals at an affordable cost.

City Parks and Recreation

Each city within the County of Santa Clara offer a variety of park and recreational activities to suit your needs. Visit your local city park and recreation page.

The Santa County Park Prescription Program is a partnership of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center-Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center​, Santa Clara County Parks, and County of Santa Clara Public Health Department. Funding for the program was made possible by the Measure Q funds from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority​


 

For more information, contact:

Healthy Communities Branch
Parks Prescription Program
1775 Story Road, Suite 120
San Jose, CA 95122
Main Line: (408) 793-2700
Fax: (408) 251-4014
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Last updated: 6/22/2020 4:55 PM