Community Flipcard 1
Who receives?

Community members who could benefit from time spent in parks

Community Flipcard 4
What is the approach?

Creating partnerships with park agencies to augment the services that can be provided to your community members

Community Flipcard 3
What are the goals?

Creating opportunities that connect community members to healthy park outings

Community Flipcard 2
Who prescribes?

Service providers who work in community-based organizations and their partners

How to integrate Park Prescription programs into a community setting

As a trusted leader working in a community-based organization, you can encourage the individuals and families that you serve to foster healthy behaviors through a Park Prescription program. By following the steps below to create a Park Prescription program in your CBO, you can help change sedentary behaviors and meet your community where their needs are in terms of health challenges, perceptions of safety in parks, preparation, and interest. 
We want to provide you with the tools that you need in order to create a welcoming program that will encourage your community members to view visits to the parks as fun and easy. Starting a Park Prescription program presents an opportunity to make parks more welcoming, to enhance individual well-being, and to improve community services. This program can also help increase appreciation for parks and help launch a culture of active living in your community. 
Depending on your target population for Park Prescription program engagement, you may find that reordering the steps below will work better for program development. 

Step 1: Determine your population

Creating a Park Prescription program involves determining which target populations you want to design the program for. You already serve a specific population through your current initiatives and programs. For your Park Prescription program’s focus population, you can directly serve your full client base, or you can choose to focus on a more targeted group of participants. For example, if you currently serve children and adolescents with special needs, you could narrow your focus to children under 7 with special needs.

Identifying your target population ensures that you are well-informed about the needs of the individuals you hope to benefit. Identifying your target population also drives your subsequent program design and evaluation approaches.

Video - Nature as a human right
This video provides the science and research behind the importance of nature to people and communities. You can show this resource to potential partners to bring everyone up to speed on the importance of connecting people to nature.
Video - The barriers between communities and parks
This video provides an overview of why communities of color face more barriers to park access. You can use this video to learn about ways to break down the barriers.
Survey - For program participants
This survey helps you understand the interest and barriers that potential populations face in participating in your program. You can administer this survey to your target population to understand how to design your program.

Step 2: Determine your program type

There are many choices in how you frame your Park Prescription program. The type of program that you design is determined by your target population, the health goals that they set, and how these goals can be accomplished through programming. Determining your program type will provide you with a clear operational goal of the program and will give you an “ask” when you look for partners to build this program with you. 

When determining your program type, also keep in mind the abilities of your current agency. What are the types of programs that your agency can fully support and what are the types of programs that you will need help and outside partnership on? The identified needs for outside partnership will form the basis of your “ask” to potential partners. Most of the successful and well-attended Park Prescription programs are collaboratively built with different partners. 

Consider the following program types that can be adapted for your program:

  • Health education messaging on chronic disease prevention with partner agencies

  • Medical monitoring to lower individual biometrics using community resources

  • Physical activity classes in parks

  • Social interaction for mental wellness in outdoor group settings

Step 3: Bring together your partners

Park Prescription programs are created on solid partners and community input. After you have identified the population that you’d like to serve and the type of program that you want to create, you should identify the agency partners and community champions who can help you create a multi-faceted program. In the previous step, you outlined the “ask” that you will provide to the potential partners who might be interested in working with you. In this step, you will be tackling the more nebulous task of getting buy-in from outside partners. 

It may be the case that your potential partners are excited about the idea of a Park Prescription program, but maybe not be clear on what a Park Prescription program actually entails. Some may be interested to hear the rationale behind this type of program. Others may be interested in learning about case studies of other Park Prescription programs. Although soliciting buy-in may take longer than creating the program on your own, there are many benefits to bringing on program partners. 

An important partner to bring in early to the program creation process is your local park agency. Ideally, this agency owns and maintains greenspace and provides recreation services, either through staff or docents. Although we are using the term “park,” we encourage you to seek any willing agency that provides these resources, whether they are an open space preserve, land trust (with publically accessible lands), or public lands entities. Having a park agency as a partner provides your program with expertise in what parks have to offer and brings in parks as community service providers and public health promoters. 

Here are a few possible partners to bring together: 

  • Park professionals

  • Healthy Parks Healthy People: Bay Area (HPHP: Bay Area) partners

  • Community Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) partners

  • Qualified schools

  • Faith-based organizations

  • Public health departments

  • Clinicians 

Powerpoint - Overview of Park Prescription programs
This powerpoint is complete with a literature review, case studies, and talking points. You can use this slide deck when meeting with potential partner agencies.
Agenda for a Park Prescription program partnership meeting
This facilitator's agenda provides a suggested flow and questions for a partnership meeting. You can use this agenda during a first meeting with potential partner agencies.
Video - Building cross-sector partnerships for Park Prescription programs
This video is a webinar that provides examples of how Park Prescription programs have been built through partnerships. You can view this to understand different roles of partners.
Report - HPHP: Bay Area Roadmap for Collaboration
This report provides best practices and important lessons learned in working within collective impact collaboratives. You can use this to find examples of how partners have overcome challenges with collaboration.
Survey - For Park Prescription program partners
This survey helps you gauge potential partner interest in a Park Prescription program and its health goals. You can administer this survey to your potential partners in a meeting.

Step 4: Design your program

Work with your partners to put the pieces together to create a cohesive program. Documenting logistics can serve as a playbook for program partners and participants. Logistical considerations may include the following:

Address barriers

Look at the barriers that your participants have outlined and work with your partners to identify solutions to overcome them. Solutions will include a combination of education and encouragement strategies. Education can be used to emphasize the specific benefits of parks on individual health for those who do not believe that fulfilling of park prescriptions will benefit them. Encouragement can be used to emphasize the welcoming tendencies and terrain of parks to those with different abilities. Safety should be the first consideration for any type of Park Prescription program. If there are no parks perceived as safe by your population in your surroundings, work with your park agency partner to either identify other potential sites or mitigate the existing safety concerns.

Identify roles and train staff

Identify the roles of your partners in the Park Prescription program. Who will prescribe parks to your population? Who will provide education to encourage them to fill their prescription? Who will lead activities when they are in the park? Who is tracking metrics? Because this is a community-built program with many different partners, it is important to ensure constant communication between partners so that the population being prescribed feels that it is a cohesive program. Some partners are naturally positioned to have specific roles within a Park Prescription program; E.g. park agencies are able to lead group activities in parks and public health practitioners are able to provide health education.

To carry out these roles well, it might be necessary to train and empower you and your partners to overcome challenges that might arise. The challenges that you and your partners might face may be that the participant is not able to make time to fill their prescription or does not see the value in this new approach. The challenges could also be that the participant feels uncomfortable in group settings or does know where the park is. Each participant will have their own set of interest and barriers, but general training can provide you and your partners valuable strategies to talk through many of them.

Articulate goals 

Articulate the goals and priorities of your Park Prescriptions programs. It is likely that your partners and you will generate a long list of goals that you all want for this program: chronic disease prevention, physical activity education, park usage, education, affinity for parks, etc. However, it is important to prioritize a list to ensure that you are designing a program with tangible goals in mind. Are there some goals that are more critical to address than others? Are there three "quick wins" that can generate additional enthusiasm early in the program?

Once you and your partners have settled on the goals of the program, integrate the metrics collection into the workflow. If one of the goals is to increase physical activity for participants, who will be making sure that this goal is met? How will they make sure that this goal is met? It is possible to spread the metrics collection tasks among a few different partners at different stages of the intervention?

Identify resources

Find the resources to implement the program. In this case, resources refer to funding and staff time. Will volunteers, staff, and others need to be trained to implement the program? Ideally, your partners will be able to provide in-kind donations of staff time to fulfill their roles within the Park Prescription program, such as leading park activities. As with any program, finding funding is an uphill battle, but not all programs need an injection of funding to start. List out the types of materials that you would need to use funding for and ask your partners if they know how to get them through in-kind support.


Is there a plan for communicating important program information to participants, staff, partners, etc.? How will the program be marketed? How will results be shared and which whom?

Worksheet - Designing your Park Prescription program
This worksheet is designed to facilitate the creation of your Park Prescription program. You can use this worksheet with your partners to identify program logistics.
Video - Presentation of three Park Prescription programs
This video has three Park Prescription program representatives giving an overview of their programs. You can use this to learn about the variations in Park Prescription programs and choose one that suits your needs.
Theory of change for Park Prescription programs
This resource provides an overview of how a desired outcome is expected to occur in a Park Prescription program. You can modify this resource as you and your partners define your Park Prescription program's roles and responsibilities.
Survey - For Park Prescription program health partners
This survey helps you gauge health care partner interest in a Park Prescription program and its health goals. You can use this survey when you are meeting specifically with health care providers.
Video - Incorporating physical activity into your program
This video is led by certified personal fitness trainers and provides an overview on easy ways to encourage participants to do physical activity. You can use this to begin training staff who might not be comfortable leading physical activity programs.

Step 5: Implement your program

After you and your partners have planned the Park Prescription program, it's time to implement it. Even the most extensive program planning can not account for all of the challenges that can arise. There are, however, ways to design your program so that you can actively incorporate the new information that you collect.

Communicate your program

Most Park Prescription programs share a goal of normalizing the use of park visits to improve human health. However, members of your target population may not be inclined to believe or partake in the program because they do not regularly visit parks in the first place. This may be especially true if your target population is a group of clients or residents who experience barriers to park access. In addition to designing your program to overcome some of the barriers, it is also important to provide as much information about the program to the population that you are serving. Provide flyers, brochures, and other take-home materials to the population you are serving so that they have another reminder and source of information.

Record challenges

As you implement your program, empower your direct service partners to record and share barriers and challenges that were not addressed in the program planning. Specific areas to have them pay attention to:

  • Accessibility concerns for participants in the program

  • Are partners able to perform their outlined roles consistently

  • Effective communications between the different partners

  • Are the populations receiving the prescriptions enjoying the program

Revise your program

As you and your partners accumulate more information about the challenges of the Park Prescription program, repeat Step 4 to update your program logistics and flow. A community-based program is constantly adapting to provide better service to its populations and Park Prescription programs are no different.

Park Prescription Poster
Hang this poster on your lobby or office walls to promote your program.

Step 6: Evaluate your program

Throughout the planning process, you and your partners should consider how you can use your goals (articulated in Step 4) to determine the impacts and how to evaluate them. The evaluation that you are collecting can provide information about individual outcomes and also provide information about overall health improvement that this program provided.

There is a broad range of possible evaluation components and approaches. Depending on the type of Park Prescription program you implemented, you may be interested in digging into the following for evaluation purposes:

  • Numbers of qualified individuals participating in the program

  • Monitoring levels of participation

  • Participant interviews and focus groups

  • Medical monitoring results over time

  • Documented changes in unhealthy behaviors

Webinar - Implementing and evaluation of Park Prescription programs
This video provides examples of Park Prescription program implementation, evaluation, outreach, and sustainability. You can use this to learn about different ways to evaluate your program.