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BerryDunn's Heller to Speak on Ways Parks and Recreation Programs Can Support Mental Health


Barbara Heller, Parks and Recreation Practice Lead at BerryDunn, is speaking at the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Virtual Annual Conference on October 29. Heller’s session, Why Parks and Recreation Are Key Factors in the Support of Mental Health Initiatives, will be co-presented with April Chambers, VP National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI).

Out of over 800 session proposals the NRPA received, the Heller and Chamber presentation was one of only 65 selected. Their session will highlight how the parks and recreation field can play a significant role in offering services and support for those who experience mental health challenges. Research has shown the enormous health benefits from outdoor activities that encourage practicing mindfulness.

According to Richard Louv, author of the international bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, human disconnect from the natural world leads to “attention difficulties, obesity, and higher rates of behavioral and physical illnesses.” Examples of programs from Parks and Recreation departments around the country include Healing Gardens, Surf Therapy, Park Rx and Walk with a Doc, Fear Facers Summer Camp, and many more.

Heller will provide best practices for developing programming that supports the wellness and emotional health of residents in communities. She brings over 35 years of experience in planning and management to BerryDunn’s new Parks and Recreation Practice, helping grow its existing Local Government Practice Group that provides services to finance and administration, community development, public health, public safety, utilities, K-12, and information technology.

The parks and recreation consultants at BerryDunn specialize in creating processes to improve operations and services based on community need to elevate the brand and image of parks and recreation agencies nationwide.

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