Published on November 17, 2020

Sanctuaries, Health Centers, & Nature Prescriptions

Bench on meadow trail in fall at Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary

It's well known that "nature's bounty" includes healthful benefits for body and mind. Now, such benefits offered at our Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries will be directly available to patients of Great Barrington community health centers East Mountain Medical and MACONY Pediatrics.

Thanks to support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Cultural/Social Rx initiative, we're partnering with the two health centers to engage child and adult patients and their families at our wildlife sanctuaries, where they can connect with nature for the first time—or re-establish relationships with the natural world.

Our wildlife sanctuaries in the region include Lime Kiln Farm in Sheffield, Pleasant Valley in Lenox, and Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield. Visitors—including from the community health centers—can enjoy  inviting trails for all abilities; habitats such as woodlands, open fields, and wetlands; and lovely landscape views.

Through the Cultural/Social Rx initiative, we'll provide information about Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries and Mass Audubon for the health centers to make available to their patients and families.

In turn, they will be allocated vouchers for free wildlife sanctuary admissions, programs, and other opportunities to discover for themselves how the outdoors can promote well-being, stress reduction, exercise, and a sense of community.

Mass Audubon West Director Becky Cushing-Gop thanked the Massachusetts Cultural Council and said, "We are grateful to our partners who play an integral role connecting patients with our nature programming and membership opportunities.

"The idea that a patient could join weekly bird walks, happiness hikes, or canoe trips as part of a balanced wellness plan makes so much sense, and we hope this partnership model will continue to grow," Cushing-Gop added.