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50 at 50 - August 4

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 4, 2017
This week’s adventure took me to Mount Airy for their NRPA Park Champion event with Representative Virginia Foxx. The event was held at Riverside Park and was held in conjunction with their Hero Day at the Park. This event brought local city services, along with health and wellness information to the kids in their summer camp program. There were representatives from the fire department, police department, the city recycling program, the city landscaping services, the county health department and an obstacle course provided by parks and recreation. The activities were all educational in nature. Whether it was learning about the fire truck, ‘driving impaired’ through a course made of cones with the police department or learning the difference between muscle and fat. There was also fun built into the day with chalk drawing in the parking lot and running the obstacle course.

Representative Foxx was in attendance to see the importance of federal programs that help park and recreation agencies provide healthy meals and enrichment opportunities to children nationwide. In Mount Airy, the summer feeding program is offeredin conjunction with Mount Airy City Schools. To read more about the event check out this article in the Mount Airy News Mount Airy received a Commit to Health Grant from NRPA to implement and offer programs and services to their community. I had a chance to chat with Eric, the camp director when I arrived at the park, and he talked about how they are working to impart healthy habits through camp. I think the message is getting absorbed! He told me he’s noticed when they go to the pool and the kids have access to the vending machines to make their own choices, more of them are getting water instead of soft drinks or performance beverages.

Riverside Park was established in 1977 and was renovated in 2004 and 2009. The park is home to the skate park, basketball courts, playground, soccer field, open play space, shelters and a canoe launch. The park also serves as the trail head of the Ararat River Greenway, which goes 6.8 miles to Veteran’s Park. Along the greenway, three of the four city schools have access, and there are plans to add two more miles of greenway that will connect the fourth school. The greenway has also served as a connection for the business community. We had lunch at Chase & Charli which borders the greenway. They have created a paved path from the greenway to their business along with outdoor seating that overlooks the river and greenway. At one point, the Ararat River was on the ‘bad rivers list’, but through funding by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and programs with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, there is a section of the river designated for delayed harvest. It is nice to see the river turned into an asset for the community that not only provides enjoyment for the community but also serves as an economic driver through tourism and recreation.

To learn more about Riverside Park or the Ararat Greenway visit

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Tags:  50at50  Mount Airy  NRPA  parks  Recreation 

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