A Program Encouraging Healthy Behavior, Nature Exploration, and Recreation through History in an Urban National Park Unit
Keywords:physical activity, park, nature and recreation, local history, outdoors, health
AbstractEXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This paper describes Timucan Preserve Health Through History, Nature, and Recreation, an educational and outdoor recreational program carried out during the spring and summer of 2012 by the Resource Education Division of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, a unit of the National Park Service. Funded by a National Park Foundation grant and carried out by National Park Service staff collaborating with a nonprofit entity (Eastern National), local public schools and classroom teachers. The program has provided over 1,350 elementary school students with an experience promoting outdoor healthy behavior while learning about local Northeast Florida history and nature. The program was conducted at Fort Caroline National Memorial, part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida. The overall goals of the program were to provide opportunities for school children from disadvantaged communities to experience the park, culture and history of the Timucuan people; experience and learn about nature and basic ecology; and to appreciate and understand the benefits of physical activities through recreational and educational experiences in a National Park unit. The students were equipped with pedometers to measure their physical activity level. Leadership, cooperation and team work were also elements of the program in addition to the physical activity. Through this healthy history and nature program, the children gained a deeper understanding of the importance of natural resources for human survival, local history and the benefits of outdoor physical activity that can be challenging and fun. The successes and challenges of the program and future opportunities are discussed.
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