Appalachian Mountain Club and MassGeneral Hospital for Children Team Up with WGBH on Outdoors Rx Expansion
Outdoor prescription program expands to Chelsea and Revere, includes new science education activities from WGBH’s PLUM LANDING
BOSTON, Mass. – The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) have expanded the Outdoors Rx™ prescription program to families in Chelsea and Revere, Massachusetts, following the success of its pilot year in Framingham and Waltham. As the program grows, Outdoors Rx is also collaborating with WGBH to integrate nature-based science activities and multimedia as part of the program’s guided and on-your-own continuum of patient resources to get more children and families physically active outdoors.
Created by AMC, Outdoors Rx takes a unique approach to “filling” outdoor play prescriptions by removing cost and lack of experience as the biggest barriers for families who are new to the outdoors and unfamiliar with their local urban parks and trails. Outdoors Rx guided programs are completely free, close-to-home, and often the first step to getting outdoors for patients and their families who receive the prescription. Equipped with basic know-how, families are more inclined to start exploring outdoors on their own using the Outdoors Rx website at www.outdoorsrx.org.
“It’s gratifying to see Outdoors Rx grow to new communities working with MassGeneral Hospital for Children,” said Pam Hess, Outdoors Rx program director and director of youth engagement for AMC. “Partnerships of many kinds are important to the program’s long-term success, and we’re thrilled to have the educational media support of WGBH to offer new, engaging, and interactive ways to get kids outdoors and curious about their natural surroundings, especially in more urban environments.”
AMC and MGHfC have trained more than 40 pediatric and mental healthcare practitioners at MGHfC health centers serving Chelsea and Revere on the benefits of prescribing the outdoors to children 13 and younger. The program will also include evaluations to more effectively monitor patient progress and indicators of positive lifestyle or physical changes as a result of participating in Outdoors Rx.
“Getting outdoors and into nature can have profound benefits for physical and mental health, from reducing obesity to improving ADHD, and much, much more,” said Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, medical director of Outdoors Rx and director of the MGH Inspired Health Program, a weight management program for children and adolescents with respiratory conditions such as asthma, exercise intolerance and sleep apnea. “As a pediatrician who encourages families to get outdoors as part of a healthy lifestyle, it has been incredibly exciting to be a part of such a unique partnership with AMC, WGBH and members of the Chelsea and Revere communities that helps kids and families actually ‘fill’ such prescriptions for outdoor activity.”
AMC’s goal for the first year is to reach 1,000 families through 200 free, guided outdoor programs in the communities’ close-to-home green spaces, either through a prescription or as a resident of Chelsea and Revere. Outdoors Rx is also working closely with Healthy Chelsea and Revere on the Move as community partners committed to promoting healthy, active living in coordination with the MassGeneral Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement.
Outdoors Rx guided activities and on-your-own program materials will be available to Chelsea and Revere residents in English and Spanish. Introductory outdoor programs will be regularly offered at numerous locations, including Gibson Park and Oak Island Park in Revere and Mary O'Malley Waterfront Park and Malone Park in Chelsea.
As a new media partner, WGBH brings its significant public broadcasting and children’s programming experience to Outdoors Rx, helping to integrate technology with nature in positive ways that get kids outdoors to explore.
WGBH’s PLUM LANDING builds on Outdoors Rx’s existing where-to and how-to tips from AMC with the introduction of fun, hands-on environmental science activities for kids. PLUM LANDING is a PBS KIDS digital project that uses animated webisodes, online games, and hands-on science activities – featuring a curious alien named Plum – to connect children to nature, teach them about ecosystems, and get them excited about their role as caretakers of the planet. Kids and their families can join Plum to investigate their own worlds using a rich collection of engaging standards-based activities, including “Plum’s Photo Hunt,” a free photo-sharing app that encourages kids and parents to head outside to take pictures of nature and send photos of their discoveries back to her.
WGBH is further lending its digital programming expertise to produce a promotional video on Outdoors Rx and PLUM LANDING that plays in the waiting rooms of the Mass General healthcare center in Chelsea, to raise greater awareness of the program and encourage families to ask about it during their appointments.
“The Outdoors Rx program is a truly unique approach to fostering healthier lifestyles for Massachusetts families, and part of a healthy lifestyle is encouraging learning and curiosity. We’re excited that WGBH and PLUM LANDING can help bring science education to this initiative,” said Brigid Sullivan, vice president for children's media and educational programming at WGBH. “Together with the Appalachian Mountain Club and MassGeneral Hospital for Children, WGBH hopes to be part of a solution that helps improve the overall physical and emotional health for more local communities.”
AMC first launched Outdoors Rx with MGHfC in September 2013 as a pilot program in Framingham and Waltham, where the program continues. The program’s early success in these two communities surpassed expectations with more than 3,000 children and families who participated in hundreds of guided activities. The program trained 75 healthcare providers to write Outdoors Rx prescriptions, as well as 25 volunteers to lead guided activities.
As part of AMC’s Outdoors Rx rewards program for tracking physical activity, WGBH will give 100 families who fill Outdoors Rx prescriptions free tickets to 99.5 WCRB’s Cartoon Fest at Symphony Hall on November 1. Families can participate in an interactive Outdoors Rx Sound Safari, as well as enjoy musical performances from over a dozen local and regional classical musicians, learn how to play string instruments in the Johnson Strings musical petting zoo, and meet PBS costumed characters.
Grant funding for AMC’s expansion of Outdoors Rx to Chelsea and Revere is generously provided by the Cabot Family Charitable Trust, Fresh Sound Foundation, Highland Street Foundation, and Vela Foundation.
Last week, AMC also announced its new collaboration with Boston Medical Center to expand Outdoors Rx to Boston in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.
About Appalachian Mountain Club
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast. AMC helps people of all ages and abilities to explore and develop a deep appreciation of the natural world. With chapters from Maine to Washington, D.C., guidebooks and maps, and unique lodges and huts, AMC helps people get outdoors on their own, with family and friends, and through activities close to home and beyond. We invite the public to support our conservation advocacy and research, youth programming, and care of 1,800 miles of trails. More information is available online at www.outdoors.org.
About Mass General
Founded in 1811, the Massachusetts General Hospital (www.massgeneral.org) is the oldest and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The 957-bed medical center each year admits almost 48,500 inpatients, handles more than 1.6 million visits to its extensive outpatient programs at the main campus and four health centers, and records more than 95,700 emergency visits. The surgical staff perform more than 41,000 operations annually, and the MGH Vincent Obstetrics Service delivers about 3,700 babies a year. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, the MGH has more than 23,000 employees, including almost 4,000 registered nurses. MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $785 million. MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital are founding members of Partners HealthCare System, a Boston-based integrated health care delivery system. In 2003, MGH became the first hospital in the state to be awarded Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The MGH is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals by US News and World Report.
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. Find more information at wgbh.org.
About PLUM LANDING
PLUM LANDING is produced by WGBH. Major funding for PLUM LANDING is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Kendeda Fund. Additional funding is provided by the Northern Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
PLUM LANDING is proud to partner with the American Camp Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, Children & Nature Network, Ecotarium, Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Badgerland, Girls Inc., Massachusetts General Hospital For Children (MGHfC), National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), National Summer Learning Association, The Northern Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wellcoin, and Afterschool Alliance.
Note to media: Visit the Outdoors Rx media kit for the prescription pad and guest access to the program website: www.outdoors.org/about/newsroom/outdoorsrx.cfm.