2020: The Green Prescription Program (GPP)

SGBCHC healthcare providers to prescribe ‘time in nature’ to support good health and wellbeing.

The South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre (SGBCHC) is pleased to announce that it has partnered with community organizations to launch the Green Prescription pilot project. Funded by the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation’s Wellness Innovation Fund, and spearheaded by the SGBCHC, the goal of the pilot project is to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals living in South Georgian Bay by promoting physical activity and time in nature.

Over the next several months, SGBCHC healthcare providers will prescribe “time in nature” to a group of individuals and provide them with a free Ontario Parks pass. The project will also provide them with free community trail maps, outlining the trail system throughout Clearview, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, and information about where to access free community programs that focus on nature. Funding for this project will also allow for the purchase of transit passes, for those who need it, and additional equipment when necessary.

“We are so pleased to be offering this innovative pilot project within our community and we are thankful for the support from the CGMH Foundation’s Wellness Innovation Fund. Research shows that getting out into nature has tremendous benefits on mental and physical health. Green Prescriptions are now being widely used across Canada and the world to help treat physical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and lung diseases and to help individuals living with a mental health condition such as anxiety and depression,” says Heather Klein Gebbinck, Executive Director, SGBCHC.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nature as “our greatest source of health and wellbeing” and says enhancing biodiversity is critical to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Research also shows that spending time in nature can improve overall wellness including reducing stress, improving sleep and boosting happiness, as well as increasing attention, memory and creativity.

During the course of the pilot project, the SGBCHC and community partners will be analyzing results to determine the benefits and value to the wellbeing of individuals, with the goal of expanding the program.

“Through the Wellness Innovation Fund, the CGMH Foundation understands the importance of investing in health and wellness initiatives such as these. The Green Prescription project is a unique yet attainable way to work to keep the future of our community healthy and thriving,”
Jory Pritchard-Kerr, CGMH Foundation President & CEO

South Georgian Bay community partners who are actively involved in the Green Prescription collaboration include – Clearview Township, Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation, Environment Network, Free Spirit Tours, Ontario Parks, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre, Town of Collingwood, Town of Wasaga Beach, and Wasaga Beach Healthy Communities Network.

For more information about the Green Prescription pilot project, please contact Lauren Jeffery, Community Program Coordinator at the SGBCHC at [email protected].

About the South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre

The South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre is a non-profit, community-governed, charitable organization that serves the areas of Wasaga Beach, Clearview, Collingwood, Elmvale and the Blue Mountains. They focus on the health and wellbeing of individuals in the community by providing everyone with access to health care services and free community programs and they support and advocate for important community development initiatives such as housing and food insecurity. The SGBCHC is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, through Central Ontario Health. For more information please visit www.southgeorgianbaychc.ca.

About the Wellness Innovation Fund

The Wellness Innovation fund awards grants, on an annual basis, for innovative projects that focus on health and wellness in South Georgian Bay. By bringing together the Collingwood Hospital Foundation and Hospital, healthcare service providers, and community wellness stakeholders, we are finding new opportunities and innovative ways to keep the future of our community healthy and thriving. Learn more about the Wellness Innovation Fund at cgmhf.com/innovation-fund

The lead sponsor, the Wasaga-based South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre (SGBCHC) is a not-for-profit organization convinced that “regular time in outdoor green space is associated with better mental and physical health outcomes”. The GPP team aims to convince healthcare practitioners to “prescribe time in the natural environment as part of their clients’ health care plans”. The GPP team, lead by SGBCHC’s Erika Haney and Heather Klein Gabbinck, has gathered an impressive group of committed South Georgian Bay healthcare and outdoor stakeholders.

GPP’s focus – clients with lower incomes with multiple health issues facing barriers to access exercise and nature. The 50-person pilot will be run by the SGBCHC and will include Green Prescription referrals by health practitioners for client outdoor/nature independent and supervised programs. A Green Prescription module will be developed for inclusion in each participant’s electronic medical record. The program will proceed in three phases: Resource Development – 6 months; Field Work – 1 year: and Evaluation and Reporting – 4 months.

The Wellness Innovation Fund is providing seed monies for SGBCHC to launch and evaluate the GPP three phase program. Program currently on a Covid-19 induced hold.

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