Abstract – Greater Williamsburg Area Park Prescriptions Project

Hi! My name is Tyler Treakle, and I am a rising Sophomore here at The College of William and Mary.

This upcoming summer of 2015, I will be working in Dr. Ibes’ lab on a project  dealing with local public parks and their effect on the health of both college students and elderly citizens. As a part of a global initiative known as Park Prescriptions, this summer work is oriented towards the ultimate goal of giving physicians and doctors the ability to “prescribe” outdoor activity to patients suffering from a variety of mental and physical ailments such as depression, obesity, social isolation, substance abuse, and many more problems that are often lifestyle oriented as opposed to disease oriented. With college students suffering from stresses of financial needs, academic pressure, and social anxiety, and the elderly facing degrading physical problems as well as depression and other mental issues, it is important to find an apt and efficient cure for these ailments. With several studies already showing evidence for a correlation between outdoor activity and positive health outcomes, this project looks to continue and build on this trend.

This project has a 5 step plan.

  1. Set up the IT infrastructure by hiring the IT technician that set up the DC Park Rx system (details in budget). This step includes database development and online administration, PDF layout design to display park info, park database population, and development of a user-friendly online advanced search tool to query the database;
  2. Promote the program by meeting with least 10 area healthcare providers and area hospitals and clinics, in-person;
  3. Design a training program for one-on-one or small group settings (following models used by the Parks Conservancy and National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF);
  4. Recruit and train 5-10 healthcare professionals to use the system; and
  5. Monitor progress by surveying healthcare participants in July of 2015 to solicit feedback to refine the program before further promoting the initiative and moving onto the next stage of research (i.e. collecting data and evaluating health outcomes).

With steps 1 and 2 already completed, I will be working this summer to help complete steps 3-5. I will spend time both in the lab and in out in Williamsburg, talking to and attempting to gather support from healthcare professionals who are on board with the project. I will also assist in observing the results of several participants in the program to hopefully see an increase in health over the period they are spending times in local parks.

Comments

  1. svcollins says:

    Hi Tyler!
    As a hopeful future primary care physician, I think this project is really cool! I hadn’t heard of this program until reading your post about it. I’m looking forward to reading more about your work!