ESSB 5092, the 2021-2023 biennium operating budget approved and passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed by Governor Inslee includes funds for DOH to convene a task force focused on the development of a Parks Rx (or Park Prescription) health and wellness pilot program that could be implemented in the Puget Sound, eastern, and southwestern regions of Washington state. The Parks Rx task force will make recommendations to the legislature on creating a statewide program that includes:
- A three-region pilot program
- Model agreements enabling insurers to offer incentives to employers to offer employees discount on health insurance
- Private-public partnerships to fund implementation
For additional information on the task force's structure and governance, please see the Parks Rx Legislative Task Force Charter (PDF).
Task Force recommendations were compiled into a legislative report released in September 2022.
Why Park Rx
There are currently more than 400 studies that demonstrate the numerous health benefits of spending time in nature. Park Rx programs involve health or social service providers who encourage people to spend time in nature to encourage physical activity and improve health and well-being. These programs often include collaboration between park and public land agencies, public health, healthcare providers, and community partners. Many organizations throughout Washington state have offered Park Rx programs. The task force made recommendations to support a statewide approach to this effort.
Focus on Equity
The University of Washington conducted a literature review of over 100 studies that identified evidence of a close linkage between health benefits and being outdoors. The literature review further found that the health benefits of nature "may be particularly impactful for the 12.2 percent who have incomes below the poverty level." The task force and DOH focused on equity with the recommendations presented in the legislative report.
The Task Force met bimonthly through June 2022. Meeting dates and information:
- August 2
- October 4
- December 6
- February 7
- April 4
- June 6
For more information email HEAL@doh.wa.gov.