Promoting good health practices, especially for underserved communities, is an important service being provided by many community organizations.
There are several parks and recreation barriers to outdoor physical activity, including safety concerns, lack of familiarity with parks, and park perceptions by pediatricians. So, parks and recreation departments are being more creative about what can be done to highlight the ways families can fill the prescription for healthy outdoor activities and educate community members on the physical, cognitive, and social benefits of parks and recreation.
The Docs in the Park (DITP) initiative of Frederick, Maryland is leading the county in improving overall health and wellness through nature exposure, physical activity, nutrition, and family involvement. This initiative is essential in combating some of the most complicated challenges the Frederick County faces – nature-deficit disorder, obesity, and physical inactivity. The DITP initiative reconnects families to nature, physical activity, and proper nutrition.
The DITP initiative is fostering change through reconnection of families to nature and good health for people of all abilities, ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. This initiative is changing the Frederick County community by:
- Providing a connection to nature, which studies demonstrate relieves stress levels, tightens interpersonal relationships, and improves mental health
- Helping reduce obesity and incidence of chronic disease by providing opportunities to increase rigorous physical activity in a variety of forms and
- Fostering overall wellness and healthy habits, such as eating healthy, exercising, and engaging in parks and recreation programs that add enrichment to life.
The DITP initiative allows for a gateway to a more in-tune with nature community and a healthier Frederick County and helps to ensure the community is a role model to others. During 2013-2014, DITP featured/endorsed 7 events with over 4,600 participants and 84 programs offered through Frederick County for Frederick Parks & Recreation with a total of 949 participants.
Frederick County Parks & Recreation is recognized with a LERN award for Outstanding Programming for providing community health programs and for partnering with others in their community to enhance offerings and help get support in spreading the word.