2020 Outdoor economy conference:

healthy communities through recreation

2020 was a big year for public health, and the Outdoor Economy Conference kicked off by covering just
that. Leaders in the health field came together to discuss the role outdoor recreation plays in keeping
communities healthy, happy and thriving. This is the critical moment for us to show up and help make
things happen in our communities, so read on to find out how you can get involved.

If you purchased tickets to the 2020 conference you’ve been emailed the password to access the videos.
Need help? Contact [email protected] for more info.

Dr. Teresa Penbrooke: breaking down the barriers to access

The reality is none of us can do this alone. The idea of how we get people into the outdoors and how we improve health is bigger than any of us. 
– Teresa Penbrooke

The evidence is clear: getting outside is the answer. Teresa Penbrooke explained the science behind what we already know: time outside is good for your health. Chemicals released by trees and soil can help improve your immune system, which is especially important for fighting viruses like COVID-19. Plus, it’s good for your mental health and can help combat those quarantine blues. Even if you have just 20 minutes to go for a walk around your neighborhood, it can make a difference.

Dr. Teresa Penbrooke, GP Red

Everyone knows it’s important to get outside, so if your community isn’t there’s a barrier there. There’s no one size fits all solution to breaking down barriers to access. You have to understand the unique challenges your community faces before you can fix them. GIS inventories can be helpful for spotting physical barriers. No matter what your community’s specific barriers are, you have to understand them before you can address them.

Make sure you’re fitting into the plan and filling a gap. Reach out to your community — they likely already have an action plan. Ask what you can do to fit into that plan and fill a gap — that way you won’t be duplicating any existing efforts or working on something that doesn’t actually benefit your community. We work best when we work together, so don’t just go off on your own. You’ll have a bigger impact if you’re building relationships and actually filling a gap.

We all know outdoor recreation is good for us … What is it in your community that’s stopping them from getting outside? – Dr. Teresa Penbrooke

Dr. Penbrooke has made her full session available to watch for free

Dr. Nooshin Razani, Center for Nature and Health at UCSF

dr. Nooshin Razani:
Making the case for healthcare investments in outdoor recreation

I don’t think you have a choice anymore — you are a part of health. We need the outdoors. People have spoken with their feet: you are essential to the pandemic – Dr. Nooshin Razani

We need the outdoors, so make it available to all. The science is well established: outdoor recreation is a powerful tool for public health. Dr. Razani broke down all the ways the outdoors is essential to our mental and physical health, especially during a pandemic. We all know the outdoors is good for health – now it’s time to work on making it accessible to all. 

Disparities in access to the outdoors overlaps with disparities in other areas. Another reason to work on outdoor accessibility? Where you live directly impacts your health. There’s a clear overlap between areas with a lower life expectancy and those with limited access to nature: the same groups are being impacted by multiple health risk factors. Dr. Razani and Center for Nature and Health at UCSF are combating this through programs designed to get their patients outside.

Be evidence based. Be community based. Dr. Razani started the day with two points that became major themes across the rest of the day’s sessions: listening to evidence and to your community. There’s tons of research out there for you to lean on when developing your action plan. Having an evidence based program can help funders understand how crucial the outdoors is. There’s no one right way to do this work, so listen to your community and their specific needs.

Partnering with public health to support healthy communities through recreation

Erin Braasch, WNC Health Center

Emily Kujawa, WNC Health Center

Milton Butterworth, Pardee UNC Health

Public health is all of us. It requires all of us to take action, to do things that protect all of us. – Erin Braasch

Don’t just jump from problem to solution. Really dig into the data to see why the problem is happening in the first place. You have to understand the underlying reasons behind problems in your community before you can make a meaningful change. Programs that worked for other communities might not work for yours, and there may be different reasons for the same problem across different communities. So, slow down, listen to your community and develop a plan together.

Public health requires everyone to work together. Now more than ever we’re seeing the importance of working together for the good of public health. Erin Braasch gave us a crash course on the basics of public health and how we all fit into it. On both an individual and organizational level, it all works better if we pitch in, collaborate and do what it takes to take care of each other and our communities.

You don’t need a grant to start building relationships. Getting a grant to support your project is huge, but there are still things you can be doing before you get the money you need. Building relationships is free, and it always pays off in the long run to be connected. Your action plan may even evolve as you get to know your community. Don’t wait until your project is fully funded to start getting involved. Plus, when the time comes to apply for grants funders will see how dedicated you are already.

How do you make it easy for people to make healthy choices? Your community knows they should be getting outside, so what’s stopping them? Milton Butterworth tells us how he’s working to meet Henderson County’s goal of increasing physical activity by encouraging his community to get outside. Learn how to identify and address the barriers in your community to reach your goals.

funding perspective: what makes a truly great project?

Marc Berejka, REI

Anupama Joshi, Blue Sky Funders 

Allen Smart, PhilanthropyWoRX

Funders have a lot to learn about the benefits of the outdoors. You understand your work better than anyone else, so help funders see how it connects to their mission. It’s your job to translate the benefits of your project in a way that makes sense in their world. Allen Smart gave us some great tips on targeting your pitch to your audience so they can see exactly how great your idea is.

The narrative has to change. “The perception was that time spent in nature was nice to have, not a necessity. There was limited understanding of equity issues related to access to outdoor learning, outdoor recreation and space. In a nutshell, the narrative that is currently present is elitist,” Anupama Joshi said. Rethink Outside is working to change this narrative, and show people that nature is a necessity for all.

Storytelling is key. Stories are powerful,  and they’re especially important when you’re working to make your community a better place. When you tell your story, you get to share the amazing work you’re doing, and your funders get to brag about your work too. You might even inspire someone to get out there and do something themselves. When you tell your story, everyone benefits.

Leadership matters. “It’s as much about investing in the leadership as it is investing in the organization or project itself,” Marc Berjka told us. Funders are looking for leaders they can believe in and who are all in for their cause. Show energy and commitment in your pitch — they’ll see you’re excited about the project and believe in the impact it will have.

Time outside makes for healthy people, healthy places, and a healthy planet for all. – Mark Berejka

watch all the 2020 conference videos now

If you purchased tickets to the 2020 conference you’ve been emailed the password to access the videos on Vimeo. 
Need help? Contact [email protected] for more info.