What an incredibly beautiful day to be outside, and what better place to experience nature this afternoon than at George Washington Carver National Park, in Diamond, Missouri. I was excited to attend their Rx in the Park Day for the first time. Daughter Elissa accompanied Greg and me on this fun outing.
The free Prescription Park Program is designed in collaboration among public land agencies, healthcare providers, and community partners to encourage people to utilize parks, trails, and open spaces for the purpose of improving individual and community health. It has been many years since I walked at George Washington Carver Park, named for the botanist and inventor who, among other major achievements, discovered many uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes. He was born in Diamond in the 1860s.
On the agenda today were three health related activities.
1) Walk the trails with a doctor.
Our group walked the trail that winds through the woods, criss-crossing over creeks and looping around the pond on the property. We were led by Randall, the park ranger, and accompanied by a doctor from Freeman Health Systems.
We paused often to admire the natural beauty that surrounded us and ask the doctor health related questions. Randall also told us stories about George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery. He and his older brother James were raised by Moses and Susan Carver, as their own children, after slavery was abolished in 1865. The park was once their homestead.
2) Yoga in the park.
Sandy, from FourStates Yoga in downtown Joplin, gathered us onto the lawn near the park’s community building, for an hour of gentle yoga. I have never practiced yoga outside before. How amazing to feel the grass covered ground beneath my mat, and gaze up through the tree overhead, to the bright blue sky above.
Yoga is something I practice sporadically. I enjoy it when I do, especially when it becomes a part of my daily routine. However, I too easily allow other activities to crowd yoga out of my day. As I moved, and held poses, and breathed mindfully this afternoon, I realized how important it is to incorporate yoga back into my life. I loved having Elissa beside me, on her mat, and being part of this special group activity.
3) Nutrition Class with Chef Robin Jeep
After yoga the group moved indoors, into the large community building, for a cooking demonstration by plant based chef, Robin Jeep. I so appreciate Robin. She shared her wealth of knowledge about the healing benefits of a plant based diet, while preparing a mouth watering meal for us to sample.
In honor of George Washington Carver, her recipes featured peanuts and sweet potatoes. On the menu today were freshly chopped veggies, greens and beans, prepared as a one dish meal in an electric skillet, a chopped salad served with Thai style peanut sauce, and sweet potato-chocolate chip-peanut mighty muffins. Sweet potatoes were included in the veggie dish and the chopped salad.
Robin demonstrated how easy it is to prepare wholesome, nutritious, antioxidant rich meals without meat, dairy, eggs, oil or sugar. I am always inspired by her classes. Elissa and I left excited to try the recipes we learned today.
Rx in the Park was an amazing experience and I’m grateful to all those who contributed. I am thrilled about all of the activities in my area that are promoting a healthier lifestyle. This is what it takes to create change, people who care about making life better…people who offer their gifts and knowledge to others.
I left George Washington Carver Park feeling refreshed and cared for and full of good health.