Live Nature Wise: Nature Scripts

Introduction and Background

Nature Scripts, a Live Nature Wise program, builds on the People and Parks Foundation’s Green Referrals Program, and Deakin University’s 2012 evaluation of the People and Parks Foundation Active in Parks Pilot Project in the Barwon region.

Active in Parks harnessed the authority of healthcare professionals to encourage active participation in parks and open spaces, for the purposes of improving health and wellbeing. The evaluation showed that Active in Parks’ outdoor programs were popular, and visits to parks increased the likelihood of some of the participants taking up more outdoor activities. The programs were found to be an excellent way to increase social interaction and build a sense of community among participants. Many participants gained increased interest in, and knowledge of, the local environment. This supports opportunities and initiatives focusing on environmental stewardship and sustainability among the local community.    

The Nature Scripts program involves connecting with and caring for nature.  Here are some of our Nature Scripts Shepparton participants engaging with nature through journalling.

Nature Scripts is a nature and community-based health and wellbeing intervention for vulnerable cohorts. The program is delivered in partnership with place-based partners who help identify and recruit a cohort of participants. The program is designed around the needs of the participants and place-based service providers who will support delivery of the 6-week program. Social connection and peer support are at the heart of the program, supporting long-term behaviour change for participants. Central to the program is the concept of Nature Dosing. The evidence-based health and wellbeing benefits of the Nature Dose are well documented.

Announcing the Nature Scripts headspace Shepparton Research Pilot

We are delighted to announce our Nature Scripts Shepparton pilot program is in development! Our place-based partner working with us to deliver the pilot is headspace Shepparton (operated by Goulburn Valley Health). Our research partners at the University of Melbourne will evaluate the project.

Together, we will develop, implement, and evaluate a place-based, nature-based social prescription pilot program targeting young people experiencing poor mental health.

Announcing the Nature Scripts headspace Colac Pilot

In addition to the pilot we’re running with headspace Shepparton, we are also partnering with headspace Colac (operated by Barwon Health) to run a Nature Scripts pilot connecting young people to nature with a deep emphasis on caring for nature. In Colac, we’re working with our place-based partners to shape a program that will engage young people in environmental volunteering, funded through the Victorian state government’s Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA)’s New Growth Fund.

The Nature Dose

In both pilot programs, we will introduce young people to the concept of Nature Dosing, using our Nature Dose Guide.

Please Contact Us if you’d like to learn more about Nature Dosing and our pilot programs.

International context for nature prescriptions

Recognition of the benefits of nature prescriptions is growing globally and a number a programs exist internationally. Park Rx America outlines the case for prescribing a dose of nature. Following on from its detailed presentation of the evidence supporting improved physical and mental health, Park Rx America notes:

Having a short conversation about spending more time outdoors and writing that specific nature prescription, might, in fact be more effective in bringing about desired outcomes (like increased happiness or weight loss; decreased blood pressure, depressive symptoms or A-1 C; and increased focus and attention) for your patients than simply telling them to “exercise more” or “eat healthier.”

Issuing a nature prescription is not “in addition to,” but rather part and parcel of the work that we already do. If you are in a practice setting where counselling about behaviour change is part of your patient visit, writing a nature prescription might be just what the “doctor” needs.”

Links and resources