Event designed to promote healthy outdoor activities
TOPEKA -- On Oct. 6-7, the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA) will conduct a two-day event entitled the Kansas Health Summit: Built Environment and the Outdoors. The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Century II Convention Center in Wichita.

The summit will promote the concept that the design of a community, called a "built environment" -- where people live, work, learn, and play -- heavily influences their well-being. The built environment concept emphasizes the importance of walking and biking and includes opportunities to access fresh fruits and vegetables, has varied outdoor opportunities that include trail systems, and is safe. Many factors affect the built environment concept, including policy, city planning, coalition work, zoning, and citizen involvement. This summit will address how the public can affect the built environment and enhance current and planned trail systems to ensure that communities support healthy eating and active living, and that this support stretches equally across all neighborhoods within a community and across the state of Kansas.

On Monday, Oct. 6, author Richard Louv will speak from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Mary Jane Teall Theater at Century II. Louv is a journalist who focuses on nature, family, and community. His most recent book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, has stimulated international conversation about the future relationship between children and nature. Louv's topics of discussion will include the following:

  • actions that create change in community, school, and family;
  • discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives;
  • a progress report by the author about the Leave No Child Inside movement; and
  • new and updated research that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

The event will also include tours, lectures and interactive sessions on a variety of topics. Sessions of specific interest to park and recreation professionals include the following topics:
Monday, Oct. 6

  • when shared- or single-use trails are appropriate;
  • a tour of Kansas hiking and paddling experiences by guidebook authors;
  • the state of outdoor recreation in Kansas (including the 2008 State Trails Plan);
  • health and wellness benefits of parks, recreation and open space; and
  • single track trail assessment.

Tuesday, Oct. 7

  • children’s "Outdoor Bill of Rights" strategies for getting youth in Kansas to discover outdoor activities;
  • pathways and stream corridor planning projects;
  • marketing trails and community walking access as tourist attractions;
  • taking the necessary steps to keep outdoor experience a family and public priority; and
  • creating bicycle-friendly communities.

Full conference details and registration information are available on the KRPA website, www.krpa.org.