Glacier Park hikes part of Park Rx ‘prescription’

Glacier Park hikes part of Park Rx ‘prescription’

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — Two local land trusts are taking part in a new medical initiative designed to improve the community’s physical and mental health.

It’s called Park Rx Rhode Island, a new “prescription” program to get kids and adults outside for some fresh air and exercise.

Two local hikes are scheduled the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.

The Westerly Land Trust hike explores the Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park Trail, beginning at the trailhead located on Kettle Close. The South Kingstown Land Trust walk follows the Browning Woods Trail. The trailhead is on Shannock Road opposite the intersection of Moraine Court.

The program is affiliated with the 5210 program at South County Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds, based in South Kingstown, a state-funded community health organization focused on childhood obesity and mental health. The 5210 program aims to encourage kids to improve their daily health habits by eating five servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting their recreational screen time to no more than two hours, participating in one hour of exercise, and imbibing zero sugary beverages.

Since hiking is one of the ways to fill the prescription, the Westerly Land Trust and the South Kingstown Land Trust joined in by creating guided trail walks, said Dr. Celeste Corcoran, a pediatrician with Coastal Medical Narragansett Bay Pediatrics, in Wakefield, who chairs the 5210 committee.

“We engage families in interview questions called a healthy habits questionnaire and help families identify areas that they’d like some more help in,” she said Tuesday. “And the families all say they’d like to see their kids get outside and get more exercise, so when they say that, we use the Park Rx as a prescription to get people outside.”

Susan Orban, director of Community Health & Wellness at South County Health and director of South County Health Bodies Healthy Minds, said that partnering with the state’s land trusts seemed like a natural fit for Park Rx.

“Part of that work in trying to roll out this prescription is we’re working with lots of partners and so we reached out to the Rhode Island Land Trust Council because they’re involved with all the land trusts and they were very interested in getting kids and people outdoors,” she said.

The work to develop the partnership between the medical community and state land trusts will continue, said Rupert Friday, executive director of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council.

“We have the program going at two land trusts and we’re encouraging people to take walks,” he said. “There’s lots of research on taking hikes as good for medical and physical ailments.”

The Park Rx hikes started in October, said Kelly Presley, executive director for the Westerly Land Trust, who led the Westerly hike on Saturday morning.

“We’re just calling it Healthy Hikes because it doesn’t matter if people have the script and anyone can come,” she said Saturday morning

With frigid temperatures but sunny skies, Debra Hanley, of Westerly, was one of the hikers that morning and encouraged others to join in.

“I thought it was absolutely glorious,” she said. “It’s a beautiful day and I love the exercise and it’s good to meet people,” she said. “The views are magnificent, and our leader added so much color to the walk by telling us about the history.”


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