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Forest Service launches initiative that links pediatric health with nature

Lara Roman (left) and Michelle Kondo of the Northern Research Station’s Philadelphia Field Station staff a table on July 26 at the launch of NaturePHL. Forest Service photo by Tony Ferguson.

PHILADELPHIA – The Schuylkill Center, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Forest Service launched NaturePHL, an initiative that connects primary care pediatric health and wellness with nature and time spent being active outdoors.

NaturePHL is a cross-sector program helping Philadelphia children and families achieve better health through activity in local parks, trails, and green spaces. This summer, the initiative began in in two CHOP Care Network locations: CHOP Primary Care Cobbs Creek and Roxborough.

Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist in the Northern Research Station’s Philadelphia Field Station, has been involved in establishing the NaturePHL program over the past 3 years. Through a grant to the Schuylkill Center from the BARRA foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Kondo will evaluate effectiveness/adherence, and some health outcomes associated with patients’ time spent outside (such as stress).

NaturePHL is integrated into CHOP’s electronic health record system, so that doctors can use the website to help families identify parks and green spaces near them, filter through possible amenities they are seeking, and make a plan to spend time outdoors. NaturePHL goes beyond a single nature outing and encourages families to adopt activity in nature as part of their daily lives.

For more information, check out the NaturePHL website.