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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Indiana Department of Natural Resources is the agency of the US State of Indiana charged with maintaining natural areas such as state parks, state forests and recreation areas. In recent years the department has adopted a Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative, which promotes ‘walking, hiking, swimming, riding and relaxing your way to better health via parks’.

How have you incorporated Healthy Parks, Healthy People into your core business?
We have used Healthy Parks, Healthy People to help promote fitness walks and fitness challenges at our properties. We identify HPHP activities and events that involve walking and other potential exercise opportunities on our program schedules with a logo. We’ve worked in partnership with the INShape Program, an initiative of Governor Mitch Daniels, to promote our parks as sites for healthy outdoor activities. We have also used it as a site to talk about healthy resources – managing deer, Canada geese and invasive species.

Have you commissioned any related research or program evaluations?
We have not commissioned any related research or program evaluations, although we track the number of participants in fitness walks and other events.

How has the approach been received?
Visitors have enjoyed participating in the fitness activities, although not in large numbers in comparison to our annual visitation. We have not worked closely with any other outside partners besides the InShape program, although we see that happening in the future.

  • Triathlon Finish at Pokagon State Park, Angola, IN, photo by IDNR
  • Triathlon Swimmers at Mississinewa Lake, Peru, IN - photo by IDNR
    531MightyMTriathlon2006_Swim portion
  • Pokagon Tri-atholon Finish
  • InShape Hikers Warm Up, Brookville Lake, Brookville, IN - photo by IDNR
  • Sunset at Salamonie Lake, Andrews, IN - photo by IDNR

What have been the benefits to your agency?
We have not received any financial support as a result of Healthy Parks Healthy People, but we have opened some eyes to the possibilities of our sites as places for fitness activities and healthy outdoor recreation.

What have been the challenges in adopting a Healthy Parks, Healthy People approach?
Competition for time, resources, and marketing dollars in the middle of an economic downturn. Moving beyond this being just a ‘program’ offered by State Parks & Reservoirs to something adopted/shared with other agencies involved in health and wellness.

Do you have any advice for other parks and health agencies hoping to adopt a Healthy Parks, Healthy People program?
Partner up front with a university school of public health or other agency that can contribute staff, marketing dollars and research to support the program. We’re glad we have it, and will continue to use it, but it would be more effective with additional funding and marketing support.


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