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Doctors Are Prescribing Park Visits to Boost Patient Health

Tik Root | National Geographic | Photo: Corey Arnold/National Geographic Creative 

South Dakota doctors routinely write prescriptions for everything from painkillers to ointments. This year, however, they’ll have a more novel option at their disposal: park prescriptions. Printed on a notepad with an “Rx” symbol in the top-left corner, a park prescription instructs a patient to take one free day at “any South Dakota state park or recreation area.”

Doctors get these prescriptions through a new program run by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the state‘s Department of Health. Although the initiative was piloted in 2015, this is the first year that prescriptions will be available statewide.




Start-Ups For the State

Tik Root | Foreign Policy | Photo: Juan Herrero

In a village on the road to Musanze, Rwanda, a group of teenagers is gathered along a dirt embankment. Among them is Jean Damour Nshimiyimana, 19, who dropped out of school and has been earning what he can as a bicycle courier. He’s lounging with his friends but would prefer to be working. Business is slow. “Getting a job isn’t easy,” he said. “No matter how small.”

He’s far from alone. Youth make up some forty percent of the population here and, of them, nearly half are either unemployed or underemployed. And while the problem isn’t unique to Rwanda, or even to Africa, the government’s proposed solution is.



The Elephant Chief

Tik Root | Harper's Magazine | Photos: Juan Herrero

As we approached the shore of Lake Ihema, Eugene Mutangana slowed the Land Cruiser to a stop. Our boat would be arriving soon, he said. Mutangana, the head of law enforcement at Rwanda’s Akagera National Park, had agreed to help me search for Mutware, an infamous ten-foot-tall African elephant who had lived in the area for decades. These days he spends much of his time camouflaged in the brush surrounding the lake. “I wish it would shine,” said Mutangana, looking up in vain for the sun amidst a thick wall of clouds. “When it shines, it leaves bush and comes to water.”



Your Genocide Guide

Producer: Tik Root | National Geographic | Film by: Juan Herrero 

As the head guide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, Serge Rwigamba leads heads of state and VIPs such as Angelina Jolie through his country’s deeply painful past. The task is also very personal: He lost his father and countless other family members in the 1994 genocide. The role, he says, is therapeutic, a way of understanding his trauma. Like any job though, it comes with its quirks, characters, and challenges.


Seeking An Edge

Tik Root | The Washington Post | Photos: Amanda Swinhart

BOSTON –  Kelly Cooke has played professional hockey for three years, though this season there’s one big difference:  she’s drawing her first paycheck from the sport. Just because the players in the upstart National Women’s Hockey League are now being paid, however, that doesn’t mean they’re getting rich.

For Cooke, hockey is still a part-time job. Twice a week practices are often bookended by 10-hour days as a paralegal at a local law office. That’s not to mention the refereeing gigs on the side. “It’s definitely a busy life,” she said.

With salaries, though, the NWHL is certainly taking women’s hockey in a new direction. And while the pay is modest — ranging from a $10,000 minimum to $25,000 — it has helped the league contend with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for world-class talent.