Don Carruthers Den Hoed (2)

Parks and 3R's: Building on a decade of work fostering inclusion in parks—and recent research on nursing in nature (mental health effects of inclusive outdoor recreation and impacts of parks at end of life)—this study explores how transdisciplinary inquiry offers a useful exploration of the role of parks in connecting people to nature for health while fostering collaboration and reflection with Indigenous partners. This iterative project began with health impacts of nature experiences and then—drawing upon environmental design, community health, social work, and education—led to co-creating knowledge with Indigenous (Stoney Nakoda) elders. The research built on a quasi-experimental field study where public participants spent one hour in both urban and remote natural sites—the latter presented as either sacred, undesignated nature, or a park—and interviews with municipal, provincial, federal, and private park managers. Though sample size was small, surveys on place preference, perceived attention restorativeness, and the Connection to Nature Scale—as well as salivary cortisol sampling—provided insight to how participants perceived and were affected by experiences in nature. The study suggests potential effects of wind and rain, differences in urban and remote sites, and preference for sites presented as parks. Results also indicate a gap between appreciating nature and expressing a need for stewardship. Open-ended responses and manager interviews revealed spiritual connections to nature; connections supported by elders through their reflections.