Skip to main content

 REI Foundation Awards $200,000 Grant for Center for Nature and Health at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

Grant to support research and programming tied to nature’s impact on childhood health and development 

Oakland, CA (November 21, 2016) –  Supporting the intersection of children’s health and the outdoors, the REI Foundation is awarding a $200,000 grant to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Center for Nature and Health (CNH). CNH develops clinical programs, conducts original research, and seeks to address health inequities by promoting access to nature as part patients’ care and overall well-being.

The grant will fund on-going research, looking at nature’s impacts on children’s health, and increase outdoor-focused programming for patients. REI funding will also support clinical programs exploring the use of nature to ensure optimal childhood development and health.

‘’One of the REI Foundation’s primary focuses is to get more young people, especially youth from underserved populations, into the outdoors. By supporting Children’s Center for Nature and Health, we’ll help families discover the benefits of outdoor experiences for children’s health and wellbeing and ideally inspire other organizations and hospitals to follow UCSF Benioff Oakland’s lead,’’ said Laura Swapp, vice president of the REI Foundation.

Studies show the trend towards sedentary, indoor life parallels the rise of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and mental illness. One in five children is obese, and pediatric depression and anxiety continues to rise. Children in lower income households experience greater rates of chronic illness than their more affluent counterparts.   But these chronic conditions also are preventable, and organizations like UCSF Benioff Oakland and REI Foundation are actively exploring the role of outdoor activity as part of the solution.

“Nature is a low cost, readily available resource for preventing and treating chronic illness, decreasing health inequities and health care costs,” says Dr. Nooshin Razani, director of the Center for Nature and Health at UCSF Benioff Oakland. “Notable studies have demonstrated that stress relief, physical activity, and the chance to bond with friends and family not only reduces risk factors for chronic illness, but also explains positive health associations seen in nature.”

Dr. Dayna Long, medical director of the Center for Community Health and Engagement explains the goals for the center. “We aim not only to study how nature can be integrated into clinical care, but also to work hand in hand with our community to ensure our patients have access to green places to play and grow.”

Dr. Razani conducted a fellowship on nature and health and has been trained as a “Nature Champion” by the United States Bureau of Fish and Wildlife. In 2009, she began using her expertise at UCSF Benioff Oakland’s primary care clinic to refer patients to the outdoors as a clinical intervention. By 2013, the hospital’s primary care clinic and East Bay Regional Parks District and Foundation collaborated to create the hospital’s groundbreaking park prescription program. Now in its third year, the program has conducted more than 500 park visits and 32 outings to local parks for patients and families. Through this program, UCSF Benioff Oakland has created validated protocols for physicians and health systems to integrate nature-based interventions into practice nationwide.

Dr. Razani’s “Prescribing Nature for Health” article can be found on REI’s Co-Op Journal.


About UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (formerly Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland) is a premier, not-for-profit medical center for children in Northern California, and is the only hospital in the East Bay 100% devoted to pediatrics. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has a long history of serving its community and addressing health where people live, learn and play.  The hospital plays a special role as the largest “safety net” medical center serving the diverse and low-income communities of Alameda County and beyond. The hospital’s Center for Community Health and Engagement (CCHE) is the bridge between the hospital and the boarder community. CCHE strengthens the hospital’s focus on community needs, health equity, disease prevention and promotion of healthy kids in today’s rapidly changing environment.

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland is a national leader in many pediatric specialties and is one of only five ACS Pediatric Level I Trauma Centers in the state. It is also a leading teaching hospital with an outstanding pediatric residency program and a number of unique pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs.  UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s research arm, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is internationally known for its basic and clinical research. CHORI is at the forefront of translating research into interventions for treating and preventing human diseases.

About REI

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 6 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. The REI Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by REI in 1993. The Foundation’s mission is to help ensure that tomorrow’s outdoor enthusiasts and conservation stewards reflect the diversity of America.

Contact: Melinda Krigel

Communications Director

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

510-428-3069, 510-388-5927 (cell)

Bethany Hawley

REI Public Affairs