News

Collaborative launches plan to get Oregonians healthier, outdoors
Author: Christina Williams
Posted: November 20, 2015

REI, Kelley Family Foundation, and others sign on to support Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors 

At the Oregon Healthiest State Summit this month, a diverse set of organizations unveiled a plan for getting more Oregonians outside on their journey to better health. 

The Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors will provide direct support for communities to reduce the barriers that prevent people from spending more time outdoors. The framework calls for more research and communications about the health benefits of nature and public policies that support health and the outdoors. 

“The science is clear. Being outdoors in nature is a solid pathway to better physical and mental health,” said Bobby Cochran, executive director of Willamette Partnership. “But too many Oregon neighborhoods have less than optimal access to natural settings and it’s taking a toll on public health. By taking action we can begin to get people to spend more time in nature and reap the benefits that time provides.” 

The framework was established by a coalition including Willamette Partnership, the Oregon Public Health Institute, Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solution, Oregon Healthiest State, The Intertwine Alliance, and Solid Ground Consulting. 

The Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors is already halfway toward a fundraising goal of $100,000 that will be deployed to support community projects across Oregon that will improve access to healthy outdoor spaces through park development, making the outdoors a welcoming place no matter who you are and where you come from, public programs, tree planting, and related activities.  

“At REI, we believe that an outdoor life is a life well lived. There’s an increasing body of evidence that shows the important public health benefits that flow when people spend quality time outside. This effort is exactly what we need—businesses and communities coming together to help make that link,” said Marc Berejka, REI’s Community and Government Affairs Director. “REI is providing a grant to help support the effort and we encourage any organization with an interest in healthy communities for Oregon to consider doing the same.” 

“Not every Oregonian has the same access to the outdoors. Parents in the Gorge may have to walk down a rural highway with no sidewalks to get their kids to a park. Veterans may not know about programs for fly fishing and rock climbing led by veterans. The Oregon Action Framework is a bold step toward making the link between health and nature more explicit, making the health benefits available to more Oregonians, and putting forth tangible strategies that communities can put in place,” said Liz Baxter, Executive Director, Oregon Public Health Institute. 

“There are incredible actions happening out there to build healthy communities. Time outdoors at school, work, and at home is an important part of healthy living,” Baxter added. “The healthcare community knows how important physical activity is—when we’re outdoors we don’t have to talk about exercise, we can just have fun, which is why being outdoors is just as important, if not more, than a gym membership.”

To access the Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors and support the effort, visit www.oregon.healthandoutdoors.org

The framework was introduced as one of three initiatives introduced at the second annual Oregon Healthiest State Summit on Nov. 10. Oregon Healthiest State is a privately led, publicly supported partnership to engage and inspire Oregonians to create and sustain healthy environments. 

Photo by Bruce Taylor.