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Feature Story

Rose Parade®: Colorado Physician Assistant Prescribes the Outdoors

December 6, 2017



Margaret DeKoven, a Kaiser Permanente pediatric physician assistant in Lakewood, Colorado, knows nature is a powerful medicine.

“Giving out prescriptions to spend time in nature sends a pretty powerful message that there is a strong connection between nature and health,” said DeKoven, an employee with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado for nearly 35 years.

photo of Margaret DeKoven

Margaret DeKoven

An advocate for those who have less resources, DeKoven worked to bring the city of Lakewood’s Passport to the Parks program to her patients. Through this program, she provides pediatric members with little passports to get stamped with the names of the local parks and playgrounds they visit. Her work to prescribe the outdoors was recently featured in a national magazine called Land + People.

DeKoven’s commitment to making the outdoors fun for her patients is one of many reasons she’s been selected to represent the Colorado Region for Kaiser Permanente atop the organization’s “Inspiring Healthy Communities”-themed float at the 129th Rose Parade® in Pasadena, California.

“I’ve been at Kaiser Permanente many years and have had many memorable experiences. I’ve never been on a float so this will definitely be another experience to remember,” said DeKoven. “I’m proud to support this parade, which is giving our organization a national platform to spread the message of health and the importance of the outdoors to more Americans.”

This year’s Rose Parade® theme, “Making a Difference,” is integral with Kaiser Permanente’s mission of making a lasting impact on the health of the communities in which we live, work and play. Kaiser Permanente’s “Inspiring Healthy Communities,” float celebrates those who are making lasting impacts on the health of individuals in communities across the United States.

Eight honorees, including DeKoven, will ride on Kaiser Permanente’s float this year, representing the regions where the nonprofit health care organization provides care to its 11.7 million members. The riders have all participated in local community partnerships or have demonstrated a passion for bringing total health to their communities.

The full list of honorees includes:

  • Chef Neal Fraser, a board member of the L.A.’s BEST afterschool program, who regularly mentors Southern California youth and teaches them how to cook healthy meals for themselves and their families.
  • Alice Rolls, the executive director of Georgia Organics, who pioneered “farm to school” programs in Georgia public schools.
  • Teresa Yamasaki, RN, a Kaiser Permanente registered nurse who helped rebuild communities in disaster zones across her native Hawaii and the world.
  • Margaret DeKoven, a Kaiser Permanente physician assistant who, through her partnership with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, has inspired pediatric patients to exercise in the outdoors and protect the natural environment.
  • Linda Watson, a production manager for the D.C. Central Kitchen, who has worked to eliminate food deserts in the nation’s capital and bring healthy, home-cooked meals to its public schools.
  • Linda Ginenthal, the Sunday Parkways program manager who brought safe bike and running trails to Portland’s most underserved communities.
  • Kenneth Lopez, MD, a Kaiser Permanente physician who helped evacuate patients from the Santa Rosa Medical Center even while his own neighborhood was devastated by the Northern California wildfires.
  • Devon Adelman, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Ambassador from Seattle who inspires developmentally disabled athletes to pursue their dreams — both on and off the field.

Learn more about the Rose Parade.