New Health Guidelines for Outdoor Education Released

New Health Guidelines for Outdoor Education Released

Getting kids outside, like these three in the Colombia River Gorge, helps them get more physical activity, reduces stress, and fosters community and social relationships. Outdoor education providers can bring these benefits to students and help them develop healthy habits more intentionally using these guidelines. Photo Credit: Yesenia Castro, Next Door, Inc.

A new guideline on health considerations for outdoor education providers has been released by the Health and Outdoors Initiative, a partnership between Oregon Public Health Institute, Willamette Partnership, Oregon Community Health Workers Association, Oregon Healthiest State, Portland State, and the Intertwine Alliance. The Initiative works to increase access to and use of outdoor areas, particularly among communities of color, people with disabilities, and low-income people in rural and urban areas of Oregon.

This “Health and Outdoor Education Guideline” is designed to assist outdoor education providers in incorporating human health considerations into their programming. It is intended for use in any outdoor education program currently or potentially engaging K-12 populations facing health inequities and lack of access to outdoor recreation.

The guideline includes:

  • Suggestions for adjustments and additions to outdoor education curricula, delivery, and engagement strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.
  • Strategies for tracking the health outcomes of outdoor education programs and communicating those outcomes to families, communities, potential funders, policy makers, businesses, and others.

Research continues to show that getting people into the outdoors and bringing the outdoors closer to people increases access to opportunities for physical activity, reduces stress, fosters community and social relationships, and improves air quality. By intentionally integrating a health focus into curricula and program design, outdoor education providers can bring these benefits to participants while they are engaged in on-site activities, and also help them develop the habits, perspectives, and skills that will allow them to make the connection between health and the outdoors in their independent lives.

Read the “Health and Outdoor Education Guidelines” here.


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