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 Indiana University Bloomington

Eppley Institute and IU School of Public Health-Bloomington to host symposium

September 9, 2013

The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University, with the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, and the Department of Environmental Health, is pleased to announce that the Symposium on Parks, Public Lands, and Public Health in Indiana will be held on Sept. 25 in the Indiana Memorial Union at IU Bloomington.

A research-focused event bringing together professionals in the fields of public health, parks, and public lands—the symposium will explore the important health benefits of parks and public lands for the state of Indiana. Attendees will discuss research with national, state, and community leaders and craft a vision for Indiana, which in recent years has faced significant public health challenges. In 2011, one Indiana city had the highest obesity rate of any metropolitan area in the country, with approximately 37.8 percent of its residents classified as overweight, and was ranked second worst in the country for healthy behavior.

"Our state's health challenges require bold and collaborative strategies that leave no stone unturned," said Michael Reece, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "Communities make significant investments in their local parks and recreational environments. Our school is committed to helping communities capitalize upon those investments to ensure that we maximize their potential to improve health and reduce the burden of health care costs to our cities and state."

The symposium is open to the public. Its development involved representatives from the National Park Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Public Health Association, Indiana State Department of Health, and Indiana Park and Recreation Association.

Research suggests that parks and public spaces have a substantial positive impact on individuals and communities in terms of physical activity and obesity, social networking, and sense of restoration.

"The organized parks and recreation movement in the United States began as an initiative to improve the health and well-being of the urban poor," said Bryan McCormick, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies. "We are very happy to co-host this symposium, which seeks to demonstrate how public parks and recreation resources remain as a significant public health resource in virtually every community."

The Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative will be a cornerstone of the symposium. This worldwide campaign, which continues to gain traction on the state level, creates programs and produces empirical evidence to demonstrate the impact of parks and recreation on individuals and communities.

The keynote speakers are Louise Chawla, University of Colorado at Boulder; Andrew Kaczynski, University of South Carolina; and Diana Allen, National Park Service Office of Public Health. These presentations and facilitated discussions will meet the following goals:

  • Build a clearer vision of the role of the parks and recreation profession in public health
  • Identify research interests and possible projects to increase grant-funded research through IU Bloomington's School of Public Health
  • Link parks, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and State Public Health with IU Bloomington's School of Public Health; Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies; Department of Environmental Health; and the Eppley Institute in research and planning
  • Raise the profile of public health issues in local government
  • Develop action plans and programs to consider for implementation in the next two to three years
  • Further awareness of the importance of parks and public lands in promoting health and quality of life

All individuals affiliated with and interested in public health, public lands, and parks are encouraged to attend. Register and obtain more information about the event online.

For more information on the Symposium on Parks, Public Lands, and Public Health in Indiana, contact Austin Hochstetler at (812) 856-2262 or auhochst@indiana.edu.

About the Eppley Institute

Established in 1993 by Indiana University's Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies—the Eppley Institute partners with recreation, park, and public land organizations to enhance access, choice, and quality of natural, cultural, and recreational experiences.

About the School of Public Health-Bloomington

With nearly 3,000 students in an array of undergraduate and advanced degree programs, the School of Public Health-Bloomington offers a traditional campus experience enriched by 21st-century innovation. More than 120 faculty in five academic departments—Department of Kinesiology; Department of Applied Health Science; Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies; Department of Environmental Health; and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics—conduct research, teach, and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness, and disease-prevention topics. Each department offers numerous majors, minors, and opportunities for graduate and undergraduate studies. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club, and individual sports opportunities.

important role of parks and public places

Research suggests that parks and public spaces have a substantial positive impact on individuals and communities in terms of physical activity and obesity, social networking, and sense of restoration.

"The organized parks and recreation movement in the United States began as an initiative to improve the health and well-being of the urban poor," said Bryan McCormick, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies. "We are very happy to co-host this symposium, which seeks to demonstrate how public parks and recreation resources remain as a significant public health resource in virtually every community."