History of the HOPE Lab

Prior to the development of the HOPE Lab, Drs. Rebecca Battista (Health & Exercise Science) and Joy James (Recreation Management & Physical Education) facilitated a research cluster that investigated the role of outdoor play on health, the environment, and human development. Seven faculty from across Appalachian State University participated in the project to identify and examine the classic texts related to the nature movement with a focus on outdoor play and health. The HOPE Lab was established to bring together researchers and practitioners from a variety of disciplines and fields to promote health through spending time in the outdoors engaged in physical activity, exercise, and play.

Current Goals

  1. To develop a HOPE Student Champion program that promotes Health, Outdoor Play and Exercise at Appalachian State University.

  2. To contribute to the public health, exercise science and leisure scholarly literature on the effectiveness of Outdoor Play Rx programs.

  3. To seek out resources and funding for a regional Outdoor Play Rx research study.

  4. To develop relationships with regional pediatricians, Parks & Recreation Departments and health insurance providers.


Richard W. ChristianaRichard W. Christiana, PhD

Team Member and Associate Professor of Public Health
Health & Exercise Science



Rebecca A. Battista, PhDRebecca A. Battista
Team Member and Professor of Exercise Science
Health & Exercise Science


J. Joy James

J. Joy James, PhD
Team Member and Professor of Recreation Management
Recreation Management & Physical Education



Brooke TownerBrooke Towner, PhD
Team Member and Assistant Professor of Physical Education
Recreation Management & Physical Education



Robert BroceRobert Broce, PhD
Team Member and Associate Professor of Social Work
Social Work


Heather VenrickHeather Venrick, DNP
Team Member and Clinical Faculty in Nursing



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