canada health, national park prescription, nature and health
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Finding joy and health in nature.

Humans didn’t evolve to stare at screens for an average of 10 hours a day. We evolved to hunt and gather on the plains, not to walk on asphalt or spend our days in high-rise buildings changing the colors of pixels on a computer screen.

So it’s understandable that modern humans suffer in some way or another from a lack of connection to nature. We may not feel a conscious disconnect from nature but it definitely has a negative impact on our mental and physical well-being. We know this because being in nature has shown to have an incredible therapeutic value that researchers are just beginning to understand.

Health officials in Canada are starting to take note of these benefits and have launched a new program that allows its doctors to prescribe free annual passes to the country's national parks to improve their patients’ well-being.

In the past, Canada’s doctors have prescribed spending time in nature, but this is the first time they've been able to hand out year-long passes that work across its national park system.

The program is called PaRx and was launched by the BC Parks Foundation in partnership with Parks Canada.


"Given the growing body of evidence that indicates nature time can improve all kinds of different physical and mental health conditions, we're hoping that our PaRx program not only improves patient health, but reduces costs to the healthcare system, and helps to grow the number of people who are more engaged environmental advocates," Prama Rahman, a coordinator for the BC Parks Foundation's Healthy By Nature Program, told NPR.

There are similar programs in the United States but because the U.S. has a privatized healthcare system they vary based on location and provider.

The more we study the connection between our health and access to nature, the clearer the connection becomes.

“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well being,” says Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D., a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, according to the American Psychological Association.

“You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature,” she said.

Studies show that being connected to nature is associated with improved memory, cognitive flexibility and the ability to maintain focus.

There are three different theories that attempt to explain the health benefits of being in nature. The biophilia hypothesis argues that because we evolved in wild settings and relied on the environment for survival, we have an innate need to connect with nature.

The stress reduction hypothesis backs the idea that spending time in nature triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels.

Finally, the attention restoration theory holds that nature replenishes our cognitive resources, improving our attention and concentration.

It’s a little funny that after all of these years, we’re starting to realize that we have a special connection to nature and that spending time in the environment in which we originally flourished is important for our own sense of well-being. Kudos to Canada for taking things a step further and making it part of its commitment to health.






Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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