As the Fellow for the Health program at the Institute at the Golden Gate, I am excited to contribute to both the Youth Wellness and the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area initiatives. My main focus will be the collaboration between the Institute and the Crissy Field Center. In essence, we hope to help Crissy Field Center program participants see a holistic connection between personal health and environmental health. As part of a grant from the Gold Foundation, we will work with the Center’s middle-school program, Urban Trail Blazers, to evaluate current activities as well as integrate new ones surrounding the following three categories: Healthy and Sustainable Food, Physical and Active Living, and Mental Wellbeing. I will be joining the students in activities to assess their knowledge, motivations, and barriers towards these topics, in the hopes of encouraging positive and healthy behavior changes.
Since the Institute is an organization that convenes change makers and shares best practices, I will also draw on lessons learned from the Crissy Field Center collaboration to develop a Youth Wellness Toolkit. Cross-sector educators and community organizations interested in exploring these topics can use this toolkit to implement best practice into their own programs. I will also be providing support to the Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area collaborative. The Institute is currently working with over 40 park, health, and community organizations in all nine Bay Area counties to improve the health and wellbeing of our high health need residents through regular use of parks. The program encourages families and individuals to take outings into local parks so they can enjoy the outdoors while getting in a bit of physical activity. The fresh air and critter sightings also do the mind some good!
On a personal note, my experience as an environmental educator has given me deeper insight into my natural surroundings and my relationship to it. I connect with that around me in different ways; on some days I am out mountain biking, rock climbing, or swimming in the ocean or playing a bit of football. Whatever the case may be, let’s go on out there!