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Kids in Parks hosting National Park Rx Day Event on April 24

by Jason Urroz, April 22nd, 2016

Over the past few decades, people have become increasingly disengaged with nature, preferring to spend more time indoors interacting with electronic media rather than exploring a wealth of parks and public lands. These lifestyle choices are drastically impacting the overall health of our kids and families. To combat the health implications of sedentary lifestyles, doctors are beginning to write prescriptions for outdoor activities. The park prescription movement led to the creation of National Park Rx Day during National Park Week (April 18-24). To celebrate, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program, Blue Ridge Parkway and National Park Service are hosting a family-friendly event at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 24, at the Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville. The afternoon will include a guided hike with park rangers and local pediatricians and more activities to spread awareness about the enjoyment and health benefits provided by outdoor adventures. Pediatrician Olson Huff, chair of the Kids in Parks advisory board, praised the efforts of his pediatric colleagues for encouraging more activity in the lives of their young patients. “We know that supportive environments are good for health and the outdoors certainly provides such support,” Huff said. “Pediatricians writing prescriptions for the Kids in Parks TRACK Trails are helping to prevent obesity, diabetes, ADHD and many other concerns, as well as promoting a sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural environment. Such efforts will lead to habits that translate into healthy and enjoyable experiences that will last a lifetime.” The event is also the launch of Kids in Parks’ TRACK Rx Adventures, the newest facet of the TRACK Trail program. Over the past six years, Kids in Parks has created a network of trails in Western North Carolina (and beyond) that encourages kids and families to get outdoors and reconnected to nature to boost their health and the health of our parks. Now, Kids in Parks is working with doctors to promote its network of TRACK Trails. Trailhead signs will be displayed in reception areas, along with a TRACK Rx brochure. Doctors can use special pads to prescribe nature activities to patients. Children that complete the adventure and fulfill their prescriptions through the program’s website become Trail TRACKer team members and receive prizes. Park Superintendent Mark Woods will be joining his rangers for the event. “For several years, the National Park Service has been active in the establishment of the National Park Rx movement,” Woods explained. “The event we are hosting at the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of 27 events that are happening across the country; and we couldn’t be more excited to be involved in the inaugural National Park Rx Day through the partnerships we have formed with the Kids in Parks program and local pediatricians.” For more information about the event, visit www.kidsinparks.com or the program’s Facebook page. National Park Rx Day Celebration When: 3 p.m., Sunday, April 24 What: Guided hike with rangers and doctors on the TRACK Trail Where: Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (Milepost 384), 195 Hemphill Knob Road, Asheville, N.C. 28803