Parks and Health
“It’s no surprise that being outside in nature helps both our mental and physical health. Parks are a wonderful way to bring nature into our urban and suburban spaces and ensure that people enjoy those health benefits. Parks foster social interaction and bring communities together, which is also good for health!”
— Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer
The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department is committed to making the outdoors accessible to all. There is a strong connection between time spent outdoors and overall health. Consider exploring outdoor spaces in your neighborhood. Observe wildlife from a porch or driveway, take a small walk, or visit a park or outdoor space as part of your daily routine.
Some of the many benefits of being in nature include:
- Improving your mood.
- Increasing physical activity and helping prevent chronic diseases.*
- Creating social connections and a sense of community.
- Encouraging active play, which has physical, mental, and social benefits for children.
- Increasing physical and mental health for older adults.
*Visit Health.gov to learn about recommended levels of physical activity for you. Talk to your doctor first before you begin an exercise program.
Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights
The County of Santa Clara created the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights in partnership with youth, parents and caregivers, and youth-serving organizations to ensure all youth in our County can access nature.
In the County of Santa Clara, every child has the right to:
- Feel welcome, safe, and protected outdoors.
- Celebrate the cultural diversity of our communities.
- Climb a local mountain.
- Plant a seed and eat locally grown food.
- Learn to swim, stomp in puddles, and play in safe water.
- Protect our diverse habitats and wildlife.
- Explore miles of Bay Area trails on safe and accessible routes.
- Play in parks, schoolyards, and open spaces near their homes.
- Camp under the stars.
- Visit a farm.
- Emma Prusch Farm Park
- Deer Hallow Farm at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve
Artwork by Jim Fonseca
View the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights poster in: Spanish / Vietnamese
The County of Santa Clara Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights was developed to:
- Raise awareness of the importance of a child’s connection to nature.
- Engage the community in a shared vision where all children can access the outdoors.
- Ensure equitable access to nature for all children in our County.
Project was made possible through the generous support of Health Net.
A Prescription to Spend time in Nature
The Juntos Initiative encourages physical activity in park settings with a prescription from a healthcare provider. The goal of the initiative is for families to explore parks in the County of Santa Clara, participate in park hikes, and become familiar and comfortable in park settings.
The Juntos Initiative is a partnership of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center, Santa Clara County Parks, County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, Veggielution, and the City of San Jose Parks and Recreation Department. Funding for the program was made possible by the Measure Q funds from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.
If you are a pediatrician and are interested in the Juntos Initiative (formerly known as the Parks RX program), contact Laurie Bostick Cammon, MD, a pediatrician with the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, at [email protected].
- Outside Magazine Online Article - Science's Newest Miracle Drug is Free
- NBC Bay Area News Coverage - Connecting Communities with Nature
How to Access Parks: Additional Parks Information and Resources
Santa Clara County Parks is home to 28 fabulous parks and provides outdoor experiences for all ages to discover anytime. Visit the parkhere.org to find a park near you! Santa Clara County Parks offers annual entry vehicle passes and low income venture passes for low income families and individuals at an affordable cost.
Each city within the County of Santa Clara offers a variety of park and recreational activities to suit your needs. Visit your local city park and recreation page to learn more about their outdoor activities.
- Bill’s Backyard at the Children’s Discovery Museum
- Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority
- Guadalupe River Park Conservancy
- Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District
- Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
Healthy Communities Branch
1775 Story Road
San Jose, CA 95122