We promote research, programs, and policies that align with our mission and vision. Through establishing partnerships with both the local Seattle community and across the US, we offer our expertise, guidance, and support to grow the current body of knowledge around this topic and contribute to the design of health-care, educational, and community settings that benefit all people.
How we work
We connect researchers with practitioners, policy makers, and other community members to encourage collaborative efforts that address the needs of our community. We use funds to build pilot projects, establish networks and collaborations, and pursue project specific funding.
Our work focuses on five populations
Can time spent in nature reduce the effects of PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders? We are exploring the potential to treat veterans with PTSD, depression, and other mental health disorders with wilderness experiences with a specific focus on the efficacy of different types of experiences, the required dosage, and the roles of social interactions.
For children, nature contact has been associated with positive physical, developmental, and behavioral outcomes including benefits for conditions such as obesity, ADHD and depression. Existent scientific evidence has informed school design, educational and extracurricular programming, and establish nature preschools. However, our understanding is limited in terms of of the kind of nature and types of exposure that produces the greatest results. W How much exposure do children need and does that vary by age? What other health conditions could be prevented and/or treated with nature contact? How can technology be used to increase nature interactions? How do we increase nature contact for children of all ages?
As baby boomers age, the number of Americans over 65 with dementia will triple to 14 million by 2050. Affected people need an intervention that can boost brain function and reduce isolation, anxiety, and depression. Critically, this intervention must be fun, low cost, and engage one’s personal interests or preserved skills. We will explore the effects horticultural therapy, green exercise, and different application of virtual reality on depression and anxiety in individuals suffering from dementia and other forms of memory loss.
As the evidence for the health benefits from time spent in nature, healthcare providers and institutions are looking for ways to improve health through nature exposure. Can nature be “prescribed” by health care providers? Does that lead to behavior change and improvements in health? What is the best way to raise awareness of nature health benefits among health care providers? We are working with healthcare providers to develop and study strategies to promote nature contact as part of prevention and treatment.
Despite the numerous health benefits associated with nature exposure, there are significant barriers to access, depriving individuals of the positive benefits associated with nature contact. Which populations have less access to natural settings? Is nature exposure and outdoor recreation beneficial to everyone? What types of natural settings are more likely to be used by different cultural and socioeconomic groups? We will work with communities to better understand and reduce inequities in access to nature and to reduce disparities in well-being.