We’re excited to announce that The 2018 SHIFT Festival, which will take place October 16-18, 2018 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will focus on the health benefits of time outside.
Tentatively titled “Outdoor Rx: Outdoor Recreation, Public Lands and Our National Health,” the event will explore how outdoor recreation on our public lands creates a healthier citizenry, attracts new customers to the outdoor industry, promotes stewardship and advances quality of life in communities across America.
The main emphasis of the festival will be on the ways an engaged medical community that advocates for time outside can help create a new constituency for public lands while expanding public health promotion strategies.
“We know time spent outside in nature is good for us,” said Christian Beckwith, Executive Director of The Center for Jackson Hole, SHIFT’s parent organization. “This year’s SHIFT will explore not only the underpinnings of ‘Outdoor Rx’, but also the metrics necessary for the medical establishment—medical schools, the research community, the insurance industry, doctors, hospitals, and clinics—to advocate for it.”
Stacy Bare, the incoming National Director of Programming and Operations at The Phoenix, spent years researching the topic as Co-Founder of the Great Outdoors Lab. “The future of our public lands and recreation economies will be much stronger if time outdoors is more consistently included in our national conversations on public health and health care,” he says.
Bob Ratcliffe, the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program Chief for the National Park Service, agrees. “Focusing on the outdoor recreation and public-land connections with health is an exciting and excellent idea,” he says. “It’s bi-partisan, has compelling emerging research and fosters growing connections between health interests and outdoor recreation providers, the outdoor recreation industry, conservation and community interests.”
In addition to working with thoughtleaders like Bare, Ratcliffe, author Florence Williams (“The Nature Fix“) and Jon Jarvis, Founder of the Berkeley Institute for Parks, People and Biodiversity, SHIFT organizers will use the annual SHIFT Awards to identify the most impactful, innovative and replicable work currently being done in the Outdoor Rx space. Representatives of that work will then be invited to share it with the SHIFT audience as part of the programming.
“At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside; rising obesity rates add billions of dollars to health care costs; opioid addictions outpace car accidents as the leading cause of death; and the growing disconnect from nature, particularly in our urban areas, leads to stress, depression and increased levels of mental anxiety in our citizens, time outside on our public lands has never been more important,” says Beckwith.
“We’re looking forward to exploring the issue with our community this autumn.”