IU Bloomington hosting first National Symposium on Parks and Recreation in Public Health

Experts from across the nation will travel to the Indiana University Bloomington campus Feb. 10 to 12 for the first National Symposium on Parks and Recreation in Public Health.

Doug Knapp

Doug Knapp

“The vital role that parks and recreation play in promoting and improving national public health will be the centerpiece of this symposium, which is the first of its kind,” said symposium organizer Doug Knapp, professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. “The symposium will focus on the vital role that the nation’s public parks and recreation agencies and organizations play as essential partners in combating some of the most complicated challenges our country faces: poor nutrition, hunger, obesity and physical inactivity.”

The IU Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism Studies and the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington are hosting the event.

Keynote speaker Jayne Miller, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, will be the keynote speaker Feb. 10. The Minneapolis park system was recognized by the Trust for Public Land in 2013 and 2014 as the No. 1 Urban Park System in the United States, and the park helped Minneapolis earn a spot on Forbes’ list of 10 Healthiest Cities in the U.S.

Allen Heinemann, professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, will be the keynote speaker Feb. 11.

The symposium will be organized into two tracks: research on the impacts of recreation on public health and national models in recreation and public health.

Session topics include measuring the impact of community sports on teenage health; greenway trails’ influence on local lifestyles; disability camps reaching back to participants’ neighborhoods; metropolitan recreation programs that serve healthy meals to children; and the country’s top urban youth community garden programs.


IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

Experts from throughout the country will present at the symposium, including representatives from IU, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, San Francisco University, Penn State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Augusta University and the University of Central Florida.

“We have assembled leaders from across the country who will share research and community models that epitomize the positive relation between parks and recreation and its impact on healthier lifestyles,” Knapp said. “We are proud to be at the forefront, as a school of public health, in the discussion of how current public health problems can be tackled through innovative and bold approaches that involve parks and recreation. We are equally proud to be the first in the nation to offer an event that pulls together the research and innovative programs that use parks and recreation to promote public health.”

Registration for the event is $250, or $90 for students. Deadline to register is midnight Feb. 7. More information is available online or by emailing natsym@indiana.edu.

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