June 4, 2019
Team Up for Summertime Wellness
This post is part of our Wellness & Nature series, featuring simple and inexpensive ideas to support physical and social-emotional health through nature-based activities.
In our most recent article of this series, Enriching STEAM Activities for a Healthy Spring, we shared how science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM)-themed activities can encourage healthy habits. In this post, I’ll share creative ways to team up with community partners for nature exploration that encourage healthy eating and physical activity. I'll also share an update on my indoor garden.
Indoor Garden Check-In
I'm happy to share that my indoor herb garden has now partially transitioned outside! Since starting the garden in January, I’ve been able to share my first leafy green harvests with friends during a potluck and even made a dessert topped with my own homegrown edible flowers. Building on the success of my indoor garden, I also started growing beans, tomatoes, and corn outside and sprouted my own wheatgrass. Container gardening has proven to be a simple way to get outdoors, be more mindful, and reflect on the day.
How to Team Up with Community Partners to Promote Wellness
Find Your MVP (Most Valuable Partner)
Your local park and recreation agency and farmers market are both great potential partners for promoting summer wellness through nature.
Park and recreation agencies can offer safe spaces to play and connect families with healthy summer meals. Mark your calendar for June 8, Family Health and Fitness Day, when parks across the country host events (like family fun runs) to bring community members together.
Try these tips from the National Recreation and Park Association for additional ways to engage with your local park:
- Visit your local park and recreation agency’s website and search for upcoming events
- Follow your local park on social media; be sure to check out the hashtag #NRPAFamilyFitDay
- Sign up to receive your local recreation agency’s newsletter
- Stop by your neighborhood park and talk to an employee about summer activities.
Farmer’s markets offer opportunities for nature exploration and can encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables. Visiting your local market is a budget-friendly family activity and a great place to meet your neighbors, including local farmers and gardeners. Find your nearest market by searching the National Farmers Market Directory. The search feature even has a “payment accepted” feature to identify markets that accept SNAP and WIC Vouchers.
Share Your Passion
As you find new partners, consider how you can work together to share your knowledge and interests with others to foster belonging and encourage healthy habits. Think about your favorite park or market – how might you and this partner collaborate to bring others in your community to these sites or events in ways that encourage active learning?
Here are a few questions to consider:
- What skills can I volunteer to share?
- Do promotional materials need to be translated to be inclusive of other languages?
- Could you include or invite other experts (e.g. local park rangers, master gardeners, extension agents) to enhance your summer learning program?
- What nature-based activities could I or another expert lead at this site or agency?
- Have I invited local park and recreation staff to join my school wellness council?
To learn more, read this inspiring example of park collaboration from our friends at Salud America!
Build and Create, Together
Working together with your partners, consider ways to engage in hands-on service projects to that benefit others in your community. National Pollinator Month (June) is the perfect opportunity to collaborate on a nature-based activity that encourages physical activity and environmental stewardship for kids and adults alike.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Visit your hardware store; ask if they will provide in-kind donations to help your school or community organization build a pollinator garden.
- Connect with your local 4-H; find out what summer projects, camps or events they might be hosting.
- Host a Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz where community members come together to identify local plants, insects and animals.
- Talk to your library, church, or local businesses about planting a Monarch Waystation.