Thursday, July 6, 2017

Doctors' prescription for city kids? A walk in the park

Samantha Melamed reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In a darkened room at CHOP Primary Care, Cobbs Creek, physician Chris Renjilian set up a projector and debriefed doctors, nurses, and other staff on a new intervention that the office will begin offering to patients in its care.

The medical breakthrough in question? Prescription-strength outdoor play.

“As primary-care pediatricians, one of our goals is to help children get more active. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes a day of outside play,” he said. “This is something we already spend a lot of time screening for and talking to families about.”

Now, they’ll actually be able to prescribe it, in the form of customized, detailed action plans that are tailored to connect kids with Philadelphia’s park system at a time when children are spending far less time in nature than doctors say is needed for healthy development of motor skills, social competence, problem-solving abilities, and even eyesight. It’s an antidote to the plague psychologist Richard Louv described as nature-deficit disorder.

The initiative, called NaturePHL, is a collaboration between CHOP, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department, and the National Forest Service.

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