Getting healthy is as simple as taking a hike, and a new program called Park Prescriptions has local health providers write prescriptions for Sitka residents to hike the totem trails at Sitka National Historical Park. The Park Prescriptions program was one of the community wellness projects to come out of the 2011 Sitka Health Summit.
Various forms of Park Prescriptions programs have been popping up at national parks throughout the country as part of the National Park Service’s Healthy Parks Healthy People US program. The basic premise is local health providers write prescriptions for their patients, encouraging them to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of a hike in the local national park. In Sitka’s program, participants receive a Parks Prescription punch card, which they punch every time they take a hike. When they complete a card, it’s turned in for a drawing with incentives.
The Sitka Parks Prescription program was launched during National Trails Day on June 2, 2012. The program is a partnership between the Sitka National Historical Park and the health providers at Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health (some, but not all providers have the prescription pads, so ask for them).
On Thursday, Sitka National Historical Park Senior Ranger Carin Farley and Sitka resident Eric Jordan were interviewed by Holly Keen of KCAW-Raven Radio about Park Prescriptions (click here to listen to the interview). Carin discussed the program and how it started, while Eric (who with his wife Sarah completed the first punch card) talked about what he felt were the benefits of the program. To learn more about the program, contact your Sitka health provider or stop by the Sitka National Historical Park visitors center.