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Physicians prescribe outdoor time for kids

Beginning this month, children ages 2 to 13 who visit with a provider at Westfields Hospital & Clinic, will receive information — in a prescription form — on ways to explore local, state and national parks in the area. Stillwater Medical Group's Somerset Clinic is also participating in

this program.

The PowerUp in the Parks Rx Program is part of the PowerUp initiative, sponsored by HealthPartners, to make better eating and physical activity easy, fun and popular, so that youth can reach their full potential.

"We hope that by writing these prescriptions, it sends a powerful message to families about the

importance of getting outside and moving more," said Dr. Brian Cress, a pediatrician at Stillwater Medical Group and Westfields Hospital & Clinic.

The World Health Organization says that less than 25 percent of adolescents meet the daily recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

PowerUp received a grant from the St. Croix Valley Foundation to develop the PowerUp in the Parks Rx Program in partnership with local, county and state parks. The grant funds free events to encourage kids and families to get outside and be active together.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, at Willow River State Park, there will be a PowerUp in the Parks Halloween Adventure event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. At the event, kids and families can take part in a variety of fun outdoor activities including storytelling and crafts. Free bus transportation to and from the event will be available from Westfields Hospital & Clinic. The bus will leave Westfields at 5:10 p.m. and depart the park at 7:30 p.m. To learn more, visit

"Being active and outdoors is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age, and can help with mental and physical well-being," said Melissa Dupont of the Friends of Willow and Kinnickinnic State Parks, a statewide network of citizen groups, who have adopted state parks to support facility improvement, program expansion and other initiatives. "We hope the PowerUp in the Parks Rx Program provides a fun, accessible and cost-effective way for people to explore natural settings — hopefully, time and again."

This is the first year that Westfields Hospital & Clinic and Stillwater Medical Group have offered the PowerUp in the Parks Rx program to the community. This year's program runs now

through the end of October, or while prescriptions last. In addition to the PowerUp in the Parks Rx program, PowerUp partners with schools to bring the Winter Warm-Up Challenge. This is a three-week program that inspires kids to get up and get moving during the winter months; the challenge is offered to schools in November.