On May 6-7, 2015, the University of Waterloo will host the first Canadian conference devoted to Healthy Parks Healthy People (HPHP), a worldwide movement to protect the Earth’s two most important assets. Healthy Parks Healthy People seeks to reinforce and encourage the connections between a healthy environment and a healthy society. HPHP was started in Australia in 2000 by Parks Victoria, who later commissioned a literature review that analyzed more than 200 journal articles on research into the human health benefits of contact with nature. The evidence showed that access to nature plays a vital role in protecting our mental health and wellbeing.
CMHA Ontario’s Director of Knowledge Transfer, Scott Mitchell, will be talking at the HPHP conference about Mood Walks, a program that promotes healthy lifestyles and quality of life by providing an opportunity for people who experience mental health issues to be physically active in the natural environment. Mood Walks is an initiative of CMHA Ontario, in partnership with Hike Ontario and Conservation Ontario, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. During the 2014 pilot season, 22 new hiking groups were launched across the province. The conference presentation will highlight the Mood Walks implementation strategy and evaluation results.
The conference is organized by the Centre for Applied Science in Ontario Protected Areas (CASIOPA), a consortium of government, non-governmental, private sector, and academic organizations and professionals who are dedicated to excellence in research and communication about applied sciences in the vast number of protected areas in Ontario.
Co-sponsoring the event is Ontario Parks, who will launch their first Healthy Parks Healthy People event this summer. On July 17, 2015, there will be no charge for day use entry to any provincial park in Ontario. As part of the celebration, hike leaders will be offering Mood Walks in selected parks across the province — watch the Ontario Parks website for details.
For more information and to register for the HPHP conference, visit the conference webpage.
For more information about Mood Walks, visit the program website.