Dr. Melissa Lem has been honoured with a 2022 Nature Inspiration Award from the Canadian Museum of Nature for her work with the BC Parks Foundation spearheading Canada’s first nature prescription program.
Dr. Lem, a clinical assistant professor in the UBC faculty of medicine’s department of family practice, launched the PaRX initiative which is Canada’s first national, evidence-based nature prescription program to improve people’s mental health. The program also engages individuals in preventing and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Through the PaRx program, health care providers prescribe nature to their patients by offering resources, information and options to increase accessibility to natural spaces, including free access from Parks Canada.
“This award belongs to every health professional across this country who has embraced the nature and health movement along with PaRx over the past two years,” said Dr. Lem, who is also the president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “I’m deeply honoured and humbled to be in such incredible company.”
The Nature Inspiration Awards, now in their ninth year, recognize individuals, businesses, and not-for-profits that show leadership, innovation and creative approaches to sustainability in order to connect Canadians with nature and the natural world.
“At a time when our planet and society as a whole is confronting challenges from climate change and biodiversity loss, it’s inspiring to recognize the diverse ways that Canadians are connecting us with the importance of nature in our lives,” said Dr. Danika Goosney, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “Whether the impacts of their efforts are local, regional or national, all of these innovative projects remind us of the need to live in balance with nature and work towards a sustainable future.”
Winners receive $5,000 that they can “pay forward” to a nature-related program of their choice.