An enthusiastic crowd recently came out to enjoy a beautiful spring day at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and launch “Park Prescriptions” as part of this year’s National Park Week celebrations.
Teaming with Porter Health System, the National Park Service is working with health care providers to encourage patients to get healthy using the great outdoors as a tool. Under this program, part of the Healthy Parks Healthy People movement, health care professionals actually write prescriptions for their patients to take a walk, bicycle, paddle, or otherwise use Indiana Dunes as a place for health and physical fitness. Patients may be those recovering from surgery, managing their diabetes, or just maintaining a healthy life.
“We are pleased to launch this program in partnership with Porter Health System and highlight the role of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in community wellness,” said superintendent Costa Dillon. “Eventually, we hope to widen this program to more health care providers in the region and to city, county, and state parks in the region.”
Dr. Omar Ansari, a family medicine physician, energetically endorsed the Park Prescriptions program and described how doctors will be writing prescriptions for their patients to use the national park.
“People could work out on a treadmill, but they need to get out into the sunshine to boost their vitamin D,” said Dr. Ansari. “This program allows us to work with our patients to keep improving their physical and mental well being.”
Students from the Discovery Charter School spoke on the importance of the park to children’s health and then led the assembled group through some warm-up exercises as a prelude to a walk on a park trail for a sample prescription.
This was not the only guided hike on the five park prescription trails, as there will be trail greeters out to help orient participants throughout the summer. There is no fee charged for use of any of the trails. A generous contribution from ArcelorMittal Steel Burns Harbor is being used to provide materials to the participants of this program and install new benches on the trails.