2018 State Offices of Outdoor Recreation Workshop Highlights and Recommendations

On Thursday, October 18, at The 2018 SHIFT Festival, SHIFT’s third annual State Offices of Outdoor Recreation Workshop developed the three points related to Public Health and Wellness that were articulated in the Confluence Accords:

  • Address social determinants of health by increasing outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities
    Partner with health and wellness stakeholders to determine shared values and common goals, build relationships, and generate innovative partnerships to fulfill shared visions
    Assist in quantifying impacts of access to outdoor recreation and related social determinants on healthcare outcomes and costs

The Workshop, which was presented by the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, was informed by that office’s Outdoor Recreation and Health Collaborative as well as initiatives and developments from other states with outdoor recreation leadership positions. Its objectives were to:

  • Provide participants with strategies for achieving the Public Health and Wellness goals outlined in the Accords
  • Provide current offices with tools for incorporating and promoting public health and wellness objectives in their states
  • Provide states that have yet to create offices with ways to use public health to advance their case for office creation

Common Themes and Key Recommendations that emerged from the workshop were as follows:

  • Aggregate and share data: While empirical evidence that establishes causation between outdoor recreation and positive health outcomes exists, it is fragmented, siloed, and insufficient for widespread adoption by the health care community, the public and policy makers alike. All participants supported the idea of aggregating and sharing data on the connection between outdoor recreation and health and making it available across states, sectors and industries.
    • Recommendation: Adopt the Confluence of States website as a central repository for data aggregation and sharing to help address the data gap
  • Emphasize the health benefits, and in particular the health care costs savings, of outdoor recreation: Framing the health benefits of outdoor recreation message in economic terms, for example in terms of deferred health care costs, creates a powerful, bipartisan argument for the advancement of public-health-related outdoor recreation priorities.
    • Recommendation: Use examples such as the 2019 Oregon Parks and Recreation Department report that noted that “Oregonian’s participation in outdoor recreation activities saves the state $1.4 billion annually in healthcare costs” as best-practice frameworks for policies, programs and initiatives related to outdoor recreation
  • Collaborate across sectors with natural allies: Workshop participants agreed on many of the key allies that state offices of outdoor recreation should be working with, noting the potential of cross-sector collaboration to achieve outcomes that outdoor recreation leaders would not be able to achieve alone.
    • Recommendation: Adopt Colorado’s “Outdoor Rx” model for the development of cross-sector collaborations with partners in health care, transportation, parks and recreation departments and other agencies to advance programmatic and funding opportunities
  • Consolidate park prescription programs with a unified platform. Park prescription programs are proliferating across the country. Adopting a single platform, particularly one that already has widespread adoption, will allow for the consolidation of both prescription platforms and evidence for the public health benefits of time spent outside.

A complete recap from the 2018 Workshop may be found here.

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