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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA Matt@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.

 

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Thinking About Employee Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 26, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Employee wellness is a very important aspect of improving community health. Recreation and park professionals can serve as role models for encouraging increased healthy eating and physical activity in our communities. This wellness blog will give you some ideas of employee wellness programs that your department can adopt.

 

Creating a workplace where employees are encouraged to be healthy is important for many different reasons. In addition to setting a good example to the community, employee wellness can improve the productivity of your department. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, “More than 90 percent of business leaders say that promoting wellness can affect employee productivity and performance.”

 

Many parks and recreation departments are in a unique situation when it comes to implementing employee wellness programs. First, many of our jobs are untraditional - giving us the chance to get up and active throughout the day. Additionally, as opposed to a traditional business, many departments are fortunate to have existing programs and facilities that specialize in wellness. Use these unique aspects of recreation and parks to your advantage when determining an employee wellness program. Below, I’ve given you some suggestions

 

An easy way to encourage even more active lifestyles with your staff is to hold “walking meetings” whenever appropriate. If you need to talk with a coworker and the weather is nice, take the opportunity to walk and talk together! If your office is near any of your park facilities, this idea works even better. For example, the NCRPA Office is located right next to Fred Fletcher Park in Raleigh - giving us a great opportunity to get in daily walking meetings. This not only gives you a chance to engage with one another, but it is a simple way to get up and active.

 

Does your department offer any fitness classes or use of fitness centers? If so, they can be a great asset in developing an employee fitness program. Offer free or reduced cost use of fitness equipment and fitness classes to staff members. This will encourage your staff to take advantage of their employee benefits, and allow them to engage in healthy activities with the community.

 

Employee wellness programs should also address healthy eating. For example, at staff functions, unhealthy foods should be served in moderation. Fresh fruits and vegetables can also be made readily available in common areas.

 

Certification programs like the Healthy Out of School Time Standards (H.O.S.T) elaborate further on staff food and drink guidelines. According to the H.O.S.T standards, “Staff should not bring in/consume personal food or beverages in front of youth other than items that would appear on the program’s menu.” Additionally, Staff at all levels of the organization should model healthy eating on the job.”

 

When creating an employee wellness program, find what works for you! This could be a plan implemented in one site like a community center, or a departmental program. It may take a few different versions of tweaking your plan before you hit on one that fits your needs. Try implementing a few of the easy practices discussed above for a good start.

 

The NCRPA Wellness Toolkit also has resources available concerning employee wellness. If your department or work site has a cool employee wellness program, I’d love to know about it. Email me at diquan@ncrpa.net with any ideas!

 

Until next time,

Diquan


Tags:  health and wellness  NCRPA wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 23

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, June 22, 2017
Next stop on my 50 at 50 park tour is JC Cooper Campground at Satterwhite Point in the Kerr Lake State Recreation Area located near Henderson.   Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a collective of eight access areas scattered around the shoreline of a 50,000-acre reservoir.  The development of cities and homes along the Roanoke River and the increased demand for flood control and electricity led to the construction of the John H. Kerr Reservoir, named after the North Carolina congressman instrumental in the reservoir's development. Construction of this reservoir that straddles Virginia and North Carolina began in 1946 and was completed in 1952.  The Kerr Reservoir Commission was then created to govern the North Carolina parks bordering the lake. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation eventually took control of the seven recreation areas of the reservoir in 1975. In addition to water resource management, the reservoir provides fish and wildlife conservation, forest management and recreation.
 
I grew up camping at Kerr Lake and had never been to Satterwhite Point, JC Cooper Campground, or the park’s visitor center.  Spending 4 nights here gave me plenty of time to explore the park by land and water.  Our group of campers ranged from 4-7 people depending on the day.  On the first day, after getting camp set up my priority was to walk around the campground to discover options for lake access and watching sunsets. 
 
This trip was full of time spent swimming and floating in the lake, walks, good food, hammock time, laughs with friends, an evening campfire and good storms complete with wind, lightning, and rain.  It was exhilarating to be floating on the lake, look up and see osprey, bald eagles and herons soaring overhead.  One afternoon we saw a bird of a different type - an F-15E Strike Eagle that I assume was doing a test flight from Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro.  
 
Most mornings included a long walk after coffee and breakfast.  Friday’s morning walk included a stop at the visitor center.  Our NC State Parks do a great job with educational experiences in the visitor centers, and this one did not disappoint.  The experience had begun before I made it to the front door.  Along the walkway, there was a sign about butterflies and their habitats.  Once inside there were lots of passive and interactive exhibits about the land, water, and animals of the lake, including the day’s weather forecast.  
 
After watching the sunset one evening, we were walking back to the campsite, and a young man on a bicycle pulled up beside us and began to chat.  Not having met many strangers, I chatted back.  His name is Treyzeon; he’s 13 and lives near Kerr Lake. He was there with his extended family for the annual family camping weekend.  I asked him what he liked about the park, and he replied “fishing, camping and being outside.”  It made me smile, and it felt good to know there are plenty of youth in our state that love and enjoy parks! 
 
For more information on the Kerr Lake State Recreation area, visit https://www.ncparks.gov/kerr-lake-state-recreation-area
 

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Tags:  50at50  NC State Parks  parks  recreation 

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Summer is here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 19, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer has officially arrived! For parks and recreation professionals, this is often our busiest time of the year. With warm temperatures and traditional school on summer vacation, recreation facilities and parks are often jam packed. This blog is all about summer and will give you some important things to consider.

 

The change of season brings new challenges and opportunities. One challenge can be keeping our communities safe while participating in activities outdoors in the heat. The summer temperatures in North Carolina can be brutal - sometimes reaching over 100 degrees.  According to the American Red Cross, “In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.” Because of this, it is important to be aware of general heat wave safety tips. It is good practice to inform outdoor summer staff about heat safety and to always be well informed on the weather conditions. A link to the American Red Cross’ Heat Wave Safety Tips can be found here.

 

Summer also brings the increase of water activities. In May, the wellness blog covered water safety, and some important rules to consider. Click this link to read the complete blog post.

 

With camp programs starting to pick up steam in many of our departments, now is a great opportunity to start to implement health practices to our youth. Healthy Out of School Time (HOST) Standards does a great job of covering healthy eating and physical activity best practices. According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, “studies show that youth that eat healthier and move more get better grades, attend school more, and have improved self-esteem, social-relationships, and leadership skills.” I think that HOST standards are extremely beneficial and adoption should be strongly considered for our recreation and park programs. For more on HOST Standards and how your department can adopt them, check out this  wellness blog post from March.

 

As with any season, creative health programming ideas can also be explored in the summer. The warmer temperatures and longer days bring opportunities to expand on your programming. One idea for a cool summer program is to hold an outdoor sunset yoga class. Pick a scenic area and hold yoga classes in the evening outside. This creates for beautiful views of the sunset - and cooler evening temperatures. Think of other programs that could easily be moved outdoors for fun ways to get people active and to refresh old programs.

 

I hope that this wellness blog has given you some things to think about as the summer kicks into full speed! If your department does any cool summertime wellness programming, I’d love to know about it! Email me at diquan@ncrpa.net.

 

Until next time,


Diquan


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 16

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 16, 2017
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2017
Since the fall of 1985 when I enrolled at NCSU, I have traveled Hwy 70 East and West between Raleigh and the Rosewood Community (just west of Goldsboro) many times. I did it again this past weekend as I went to visit my family and see my great niece in person for the first time.

Early Saturday morning, I took the Buffalo Road exit and found my way to Brack Wilson Park in Selma. Brack Wilson Park is the largest park in Selma and is just over 12 acres. Like most parks, it has picnic shelters, a playground area and ball fields. There is also an outdoor basketball court. I’m not sure what the land looked like back in 1978 when the park was constructed, but today there are lots of huge trees providing shade to many areas of the park. As I walked around, I was pleasantly surprised to find PlayPrints at this park. With over 40 parks in NC receiving PlayPrints grants, I can’t keep track of all of them. Seeing the huge robot and sunflower on the walkway from the parking into the park was a great location to encourage people to move a little more.

The first phase of Brack Wilson Park was built in 1978 and partially funded by a LWCF grant in 1977. Over the years, 2 more phases have been completed to create the park as it is today. Joe Carter, Selma Parks & Recreation Director gave me a little history on this park. Brack Wilson owned a car dealership in Selma and leased the land for the park to the town for $1 per year with a 25 year lease. As the end of the lease agreement was approaching, Joe reached out to the heirs to find out about this property remaining a park. The family donated the land to the town and a rededication ceremony was held in the early 2000’s to celebrate the occasion.

For more information on the programs and facilities offered by Selma Parks & Recreation, visit http://www.selma-nc.com/parks-and-recreation

If you are traveling Hwy 70 between Raleigh and the beach, I encourage you to take the Buffalo Road exit and check out this park that has been serving the community for almost 40 years.

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  parks  recreation 

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Great Outdoors Month

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 12, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Happy June! If you did not know, June is Great Outdoors Month. As recreation and park professionals, we are tasked with promoting the benefits of nature. This wellness blog will detail some of the benefits of getting outdoors, and some engaging ways to get your community out in your parks.


The wellness blog content has talked extensively about the benefits of nature in the past. I am a huge believer that time spent outdoors is very valuable for one's health. Check out one of our old blog posts that goes into the benefits of the great outdoors. Fortunately, there is a lot of science that supports my belief.


Business Insider published an article in 2016 containing 11 scientifically proven benefits of spending time outdoors. The list includes improved short term memory,  reduced inflammation,  better vision, & sharper thinking and creativity. Click this link to read the article in its entirety.


Most scientists also agree the outdoor exercise is generally more beneficial than equal indoor programs. An article published by the New York Times expanded upon this. “Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version.” The article went on to say “In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.”


The New York Times article also concluded that outdoor activities generally bring participants more happiness than their indoor activity counterparts. “In a number of recent studies, volunteers have been asked to go for two walks for the same time or distance — one inside, usually on a treadmill or around a track, the other outdoors. In virtually all of the studies, the volunteers reported enjoying the outside activity more.”


Since the weather is warm this time of year, try holding normal indoor events outdoors! Some ideas for this could include holding open gym basketball or pickleball outdoors a few days per month. This promotes being outside, and can be a fun change from the normal routine.


Another idea to get people outside is to hold a photo scavenger hunt challenge. Pick one of your departments outdoor facilities and encourage your community to go exploring. Choose a few landmarks along the trail and write clues describing them. Participants then take a photo of each item on the hunt and show a designated staff person to win a small prize. Encourage participants to share their photos on social media. Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to get people outside to explore your facilities, and to get people excited about going outdoors.



Additionally, look to capitalize on current trends that are taking place outdoors. Trends like geocaching and Pokemon Go bring many people outdoors everyday. Always try to be aware of trends that will bring people to your parks, and try to come up with creative ways to cater activities towards participants.


I hope that you have learned a bit more about Great Outdoors month, and why promoting outdoor activity is important! I encourage you to register for our NCRPA June Wellness Webinar focused on Stand-up paddle boards, an exciting outdoor program. Kevin Pimentel from Mecklenburg County joins us on June 21st at 1:00 pm to detail the County's paddle-board program. Learn ideas and tips to get a similar program up and running in your department. Click here to register!


Until next time,

 

Diquan



Tags:  NCRPA Wellness 

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50 at 50 - June 9

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 9, 2017
Updated: Thursday, June 8, 2017
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to camp at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Since I was also there in April, this is not a new to me park, but one I highly recommend you visit. There are not many places where you go for a hike and meet wild ponies on the trail.

On my way back through Surry County, I saw a sign for Fisher River Park located in Dobson and hung a right to find it. Without any prior research, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived and was pleasantly surprised. This park was dedicated in 2001 and has a plethora of activities available. As I traveled the road to the park I saw signs directing me to the amphitheater and the 6.5 miles of mountain bike trails. A little further down the road was the practice field and the entrance I took to the park. Here I found several baseball/softball fields, a soccer/multipurpose field, several large picnic shelters which were both being used and even a small picnic table/shelter with a grill. The park also has a walking trail, 2 playgrounds, horseshoe pits and an outdoor basketball court.

What I noticed while rambling around the park, was most everything was sponsored or supported. I chatted with Surry County P&R Director Daniel White to find out more. They have a gift catalog program created a number of years ago and is being revamped to reflect current costs and pricing for naming rights. Over the years, a number of businesses, community groups and families have sponsored items in the park. These donations have helped towards applying for matching grants.

While talking to Daniel, I found out the department has a unique partnership with the Wild Turkey Federation to offer the Women in Outdoors program. This is a female-focused outdoor skills training program. In the past they have taught kayaking and skeet shooting.

A plaque I found on the wall at the concession stand reads, “A special thanks to all Recreation Advisory Committee members past, present and future. Together we can make a difference!”. What an innovative way to recruit future advisory committee members.

The park is 135 acres with some undeveloped acres. The property has been owned by the county since 1870. Its original intent was the “poor farm” - a place where those with no place to live and without jobs could live, work and earn their way towards having those things. The old farm house is still on the property. Fisher River Park was the vision of a county commissioner and advisory board members to create a place for recreational opportunities for Surry County residents and travelers like myself passing through.

For more information on Fisher River Park visit http://www.co.surry.nc.us/departments/(k_through_z)/park_and_recreation/fisher_river_park/index.php

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  NCRPA  parks  Recreation 

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YPN Blog: June 2017

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, June 8, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2017

From first-hand experience, finding a job after graduating from college can be extremely tough. The up’s and down’s of the job search can be relentless at times. For a young professional trying to make their way into the field, it’s important to keep a level head. In this month’s edition of the YPN blog, I will share my journey to this point in my career and the impact that part-time work has had on me.


I graduated from North Carolina State University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sport Management. During my time at NC State, I grew increasingly interested in working in parks and recreation. Although I was not sure in what capacity, I knew that parks and recreation would allow me to make a difference in the lives of people in my community. In 2014, I got my first taste of working in parks and recreation when I accepted a position as a Community Center Aide with the Town of Cary.


After graduation, I was not sure what my next move would be. I really enjoyed my position with the Town of Cary, but the part-time job limitation would not be enough to sustain myself. I began relentlessly searching and applying for jobs. I came close to snagging a few full-time positions, but ultimately nothing panned out.


At this point in my search, it had been three months. I spoke with different mentors in the field, and they all encouraged me to start applying for additional part-time jobs. At first, I had mixed feelings about this approach - but ultimately decided it was the best move for my future. In August 2015, I accepted a position as an Athletic Specialist with the City of Durham.


September rolled around, and I had two part-time jobs, working 5-10 hours a week at both. Since I had some free nights, I decided to look for another part-time job (In addition to the relentless search for full-time work!). In mid-September, I was hired by the Town of Morrisville as an Athletic Field Supervisor, where I oversaw a variety of different sports.


I worked three part-time jobs until January 2016, and I absolutely loved the experience. I spent less time at home stressing about finding permanent employment, and more time out impacting communities and strengthening my work experience. I received a promotion from my job with Durham Parks and Recreation and settled into a new role with the Town of Cary. Because of the nature of local municipality athletic and recreation events, most of my nights and weekends were booked. I spent days searching for permanent employment, and nights and weekends working my collection of part-time jobs.


It then dawned on me that since most of my days were relatively uneventful, I could search for yet another part-time job - but one that offered daytime hours. I reached out to local track-out camps in my area and found XL Sports World - a commercial recreation facility that offered multi-sports camps.


By the end of January, I worked most of my weekdays at XL Sports World as a camp coach, and weeknights and weekends at some combination of my positions with the Towns of Cary & Morrisville, and the City of Durham.


Although juggling all of these positions at once made for very difficult scheduling, I settled into a routine. I was proud of myself for making the most out of my situation by examining my schedule and turning unused time into opportunities for community and professional growth.


I continued juggling my positions until August when I accepted my role as the Wellness Assistant here with NCRPA. This role was a great opportunity for a number of reasons: the chance to impact recreation and park departments throughout the entire state, a 20 hour a week position with daytime hours, and the potential for growth. It even allowed me to keep my other part-time roles, which really interested me.


These roles allowed me to be in different settings doing multiple tasks. I have learned the inner-workings of multiple agencies, allowing me to diversify my skillset. Additionally, I have really enjoyed connecting with the children and participants in the multiple programs I have been involved with.


It is safe to say that without my part-time work experience, I would not be in the position I am in today. My supervisors from my jobs became my best advocates, and the advice and experience they provided me were invaluable.


If you are a young professional looking to start or advance a career in recreation and parks, I would highly suggest looking into part-time work. Put your best foot forward and make an effort to establish connections in the community. Although the grind of part-time scheduling can be tough at times, it is often the best way to break into the industry and gain valuable connections along the way.


 Meet the Author

 

Diquan joined NCRPA as the Wellness Assistant in 2016 and is a native of Absecon, New Jersey. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 2015 with an undergraduate degree in Sport Management. Prior to joining the staff at NCRPA, he has worked various part-time jobs with municipalities in the Triangle Area. Diquan resides in Durham, NC and enjoys playing and watching sports, hiking, the great outdoors, and spending time with friends and family in his spare time.

 

 Diquan can be reached at diquan@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868.

 

 

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at nicole@ncrpa.net or 919-832-5868.


Tags:  part-time jobs  young professionals  ypn 

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50 at 50 - June 2

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, June 2, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Getting out and seeing “new to me” parks is fun!  This week, I went to Church Street Park in Morrisville.  I have watched this park through its construction phase as it is along one of my weekend cycling routes.  I just had not taken the time to stop and investigate.  That changed on Memorial Day when I went to check it out and get in my walk.  

Located at 5800 Cricket Pitch Way in Morrisville, the park opened in Spring of 2015 and is currently about 25 acres.  And the street address alludes to a sport that is often played there - Cricket.  Not a traditional NC sport, but one that has seen increasing popularity in Morrisville.  The Triangle Cricket League rents the field at this park to run part of their league.  The large multipurpose field is round to accommodate cricket and can also be used as two soccer/flag football fields

Surrounding the multipurpose field is a walking trail, complete with a sign indicating the distance around and how many laps make 1 mile.  While walking my laps, it was great to see a father letting his young daughter ride her bike.  She was able to ride ahead, and he was able to see her across the open field.  Riding the ‘loop’, she was protected from car traffic as well.  The park has three tennis courts which are the only free tennis courts in town, a playground area, two picnic shelters and a restroom facility.  I was impressed with the natural lighting in the restroom. 

If your travels find you in the Morrisville area, swing by Church Street Park and check it out.   For more information visit: http://www.townofmorrisville.org/index.aspx?nid=748 

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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Happy Memorial Day!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 29, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Happy Memorial Day! I hope that you are finding time to relax and enjoy the long weekend. Memorial Day is the unofficial start to Summer and for parks and recreation professionals - it is often the last break before the grind of summer programming begins. This wellness blog will give you 10 fun (and healthy) recipes and activities to try this Memorial Day or summer.


  1. Ramen Slaw - This recipe for coleslaw that makes for a great light cookout side dish

  2. Take a kayaking trip. Our friends at BCBSNC put together a list of five great kayaking locations in North Carolina.

  3. Turkey Burgers - I love making these turkey burgers whenever I am craving a burger

  4. Check out a new trail or park! I often use this site to find fun hikes to go on.

  5. Replace hot dogs with chicken sausage for a healthier alternative! Be sure to check the nutrition facts first!

  6. Get out on the (Disc) Golf Course! This site has a listing of courses in the State.

  7. Banana Ice Cream -  This one ingredient Banana “Ice Cream” is a super easy frozen treat

  8. Check out the late blooming spring wildflowers!

  9. Grilled Corn on the Cob - An old classic - one of my favorite cookout foods

  10. Memorial day is typically the opening of outdoor pool season. If you’re jumping in the pool, be sure to follow these safe water practices.


I hope that you have a relaxing holiday! If you try any of these tips out - I’d love to know about it. Email me at diquan@ncrpa.net


Until next time,

Diquan


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness 

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50 at 50 - May 26

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, May 26, 2017
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017
On May 15, I reached one of those milestones in life - celebrating my 50th birthday.  So far, it has been great.  And honestly, it doesn’t feel much different than 49.  A 50th birthday is to be celebrated and in the months leading up to the big day, I thought about what I wanted to do to mark the occasion.  I’m not one for jumping out of airplanes so I’m settling on something a little more simplistic that will bring me great joy.

If you didn’t already know, I LOVE parks!  And in my 50 years, I’ve been to quite a few of them - local parks, state parks and national parks.  During the upcoming year, I’m going to expand on the list of parks I have visited and my goal is to visit 50 “new to me” parks.   When researching if this project was possible, I discovered that here in Wake County, there are over 200 parks and I can promise you there are many of them I have not visited.  I will not be limiting my visits to just Wake County or even NC.  

Just like people, parks come in all shapes, sizes and with different traits and characteristics.  Over the course of the next year, I hope you will join me on the journey and learn about some “new to you” parks as well.  

My first park is not only new to me, but new to most everyone else as well - Downtown Park in Cary. The soon to be 6 acre park, opened the first acre this spring and is part of the downtown redevelopment.  It is located near the heart of downtown and across from the Arts Center.  Don’t let the passive appearance of this park fool you.  In addition to the centerpiece fountain, there is table tennis and foosball available.  Soon after the opening, yoga and other exercise classes were offered and some summer concerts are planned.  To learn more, visit the official site for Downtown Park at http://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/parks-greenways-environment/parks/downtown-park 


50 at 50 is the journey of NCRPA’s Executive Director Michelle Wells as she celebrates her 50th birthday by visiting 50 ‘new to her’ parks before 5/14/2018.  Published on Fridays, look for the next stop in this adventure.  All posts in this series can be found by searching the tag 50at50.  

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Tags:  50at50  NCRecre8  parks  recreation 

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Community Health & Wellness Workshop

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 22, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In case you did not know, the NCRPA Wellness Initiative is holding a Community Health & Wellness Workshop on June 8th in Greensboro, NC! The workshop is designed to give you tools to improve the health of your community. This wellness blog will detail the workshop’s sessions and speakers.


The idea for the Community Health & Wellness Workshop stemmed from the NCRPA 2016 Education and Workshops Survey. The survey was distributed to NCRPA members and asked a variety of questions regarding workshops and topics that our members are interested in. In the survey, we asked the question “Would you be interested in attending a wellness event, workshop, or summit?” and the overwhelming majority of respondents selected “yes”. Because of this interest, planning began for a wellness event.


When determining the layout for a wellness event, I began exploring relevant health and wellness topics in North Carolina. This exploration involved analyzing the 2016 NCRPA Park Directors Agency Wellness Assessment, as well as researching current trends in wellness. Through my search, I discovered the elements for our workshop sessions which are included below.


A separate wellness specific survey was sent out to North Carolina Park Directors in 2016. The Park Directors Agency Wellness Assessment found that healthy eating programs were lacking in our departments. To address this shortfalling, we recruited Dr. Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Haynes-Maslow, nutrition and public health expert, has put together a session that will “explore how your agency's out-of-school programs can implement Healthy Out of School Time Standards.” Healthy eating objectives are a major part of these standards will be discussed in depth. Additionally, Dr. Haynes-Maslow will discuss how the NC State Cooperative Extension can help in the implementation of these standards.


In researching current trends in recreation for health programs, the concept of park prescriptions was a major topic area. To address this trend, Dr. Jason Bocarro and Dr. Myron Floyd from NC State University, and Sangamithra Krupakar MBBS, MSPH from the Division of Public Health will  present a session entitled “Thinking Outside the Pillbox: Positioning community parks and recreation to grow healthier communities.” This session will “explore how community parks and recreation services can play a much larger role in providing both prevention and treatment, offering an alternative and a more cost effective and efficient preventive medical approach.” Additionally, attendees will be introduced to the research behind park prescription programs and be given ways to implement these practices into their communities.


A common thread in implementing recreation for health programs that I found were partnerships. These partnerships take individuals from different backgrounds with different skill sets and brought them together to create recreation for health programs. The idea of partnership inspired our next session: the Community Health & Wellness expert panel. This panel of recreation and health care providers will help facilitate a roundtable discussion centered around recreation for health. This roundtable discussion will help attendees gain skills to form community partnerships, give attendees resources to help implement health programs, and more! Our panelists include Alice Keene - Special Projects Coordinator from Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation, Jason Urroz - director of Kids in Parks, and Dave Gardner - Worksite Wellness and School Coordinator with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Each panelist’s track record has demonstrated a passion for community health & wellness and will bring a wealth of knowledge to our group.


Our is taking place on Thursday, June 8th, 2017 at the Kathleen Clay Edwards Library in Greensboro, NC. The speakers are extremely engaging and will help you in improving wellness in your community. If you are passionate about positively impacting the health and wellness of members of your community, please register today! We would love to get a big turnout to help create a network of health and wellness advocates in our state. Space for the workshop is limited, so please register today!!


Until next time,


Diquan


Tags:  healthy eating  Healthy Living  ncrpa  ncrpa wellness  workshop 

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Wellness Community Partnerships

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 15, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 8, 2017

This week, the wellness initiative interviewed Greg Walker, Director of Fletcher Parks and Recreation about their numerous community partners in wellness. Special thanks to Greg for providing his answers. Read the interview below, and get inspired to create & sustain wellness partnerships in your community!


1. What partnerships in wellness does the Town of Fletcher currently offer?


We partner with the following companies to provide community wellness programs at Fletcher Community Park:

  • Foot Rx Running holds a $5.00 community 5k run the first Wednesday of every month with proceeds going to local non-profits.

  • Fleet Feet Sports holds monthly training runs for beginners with their “no boundaries” program on Saturdays.

  • Park Ridge Health sponsors community wellness events at the park and provides nutritional expertise for participants.

  • Burn Fitness is currently offering free community HIT classes on our outdoor fitness center, once a month.


2. Any suggestions for unique, outside the box wellness partnerships that agencies can pursue?


Look to partner with area non-profits (YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, etc.) to provide community gardens or walking clubs.


3. What is the most effective strategy you use to establish partnerships in your community?


I visit with local community wellness providers to find out any needs they have, to see if I can provide solutions by partnerships.


4. What are some of the challenges that come along with establishing these partnerships?


Breaking down old “turf” issues. To overcome this, remind potential partners that we are all in this to provide a better quality of life for those residents in our community.


Example:  We use a YMCA yoga instructor to teach our yoga classes at the Town Hall during the winter season.


5. What is the biggest value in your eyes that these partnerships bring to improve community wellness?


Partnering is a great way to begin collaborations in your community, and as a local government, we should lead the way.


6. What do you think is the best quality in a partner?


I look for partners that want to impact people, not make money off them. You have to have the same vision for community service.


7. Any other advice for departments seeking wellness partners?


Get out of your building or park, have lunch with potential partners and do not be afraid to ask them to assist you to serve others!


Thanks again to Greg Walker in Fletcher for providing us with more information about the town’s wellness partnerships! If your department has any cool wellness partnerships, i’d love to know about it. Email me at diquan@ncrpa.net to share!


Until next time,

Diquan


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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Employee Wellness: Stand-Up Desks

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 8, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Thanks to a grant, NCRPA was able to purchase stand-up desks for our team. So far, we are all loving the change! This wellness blog will cover the health benefits of stand-up desks, and how your department can adopt the change.


Sitting for long periods of time is commonly known to be bad for overall health. According to the Washington Post, risks of sitting for prolonged periods include heart disease, sore shoulders and back, and poor circulation in legs. This can cause problems for those of us with jobs that require us to sit down.


Stand-up desks have been around for ages. They are a great way to avoid sitting down for the majority of the day, but still be productive in an office setting. According to Smithsonian.com, stand-up desks can have a variety of benefits on your health:


  • Reduced risk of obesity

  • Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and other metabolic problems

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Reduced risk of cancer


To read the full article on Smithsonian.com regarding stand-up desks, click this link.


In addition to health benefits that standing up more can provide, there are also productivity benefits! According to a study referenced in the Washington Post, “employees using stand-capable desks were more productive than their colleagues in standard, seated desks.” The study goes on to state that  “Researchers noticed a difference in the workers’ comfort, attitude about work, and how they felt about themselves.”


If you are interested in starting to use a stand-up desk, there are a few things to consider. According to CBSnews.com, sitting and standing should be alternated back and forth every “30 minutes of each for most people” while adjusting to your new set up. The article also provides an infographic that shows the correct posture to use when standing.


There are a number of different types of stand-up desks options that can be adapted to your office space. If you have an office big enough to fit multiple desks, a non-adjustable stand-up desk can be added. However, if you have a smaller space, an adjustable stand-up desk may be right for you. These desks can be adjusted to standing and sitting height by the turn of a crank.


Once you have your desk in place, there are a number of different fitness equipment that can be added to your daily work routine! At the NCRPA office, the grant also covered a desk elliptical trainer. I love using the pedals for a few minutes each day while I’m sitting down to get my heart rate up.


Enjoy these photos of the NCRPA team up and using our stand-up desks! Nicole and I have the adjustable variety, while Matt, Wanda, and Michelle have the non-adjustable type. We hope to see you all up and standing soon!


Until next time,

Diquan

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Tags:  Employee Wellness  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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YPN Blog: May 2017

Posted By Laura Rice, Henderson County Parks and Recreation, Monday, May 1, 2017

Working in the public service setting can make it difficult to find ways outside of work to connect and be involved with the community. As recreation providers, we are often in the midst of community events and programs, which can make it feel like we are extremely tied into all the happenings within our towns and cities, despite a whole new world of areas to explore outside of the circles we frequent.

Luckily, I find myself involved with many community projects within the scope of my job as a Recreation Program Supervisor in Henderson County, which is exciting but comes with a few downsides. As I’m sure many of you can relate, the demands on our time and energy in public service sometimes leave us without the time or energy to be involved in the community outside of work hours. Those very unique work hours we keep (“we work when you play!”) can conflict with projects that we would otherwise eagerly jump into.

As I’ve found my rhythm and groove in my position and settled into the demands on my time, there are a few ways I’ve found to be more involved within my community, network, and reach beyond the sometimes seemingly all-encompassing world of public recreation:

- Local leadership course: Here in Henderson County there is a program called Vision Henderson County that exposes participants to the history, culture, commerce, and general make-up of the area. From visiting the local history museum and hearing stories of Main Street fires to touring an innovative plant grafting facility, I’ve learned more about my community in the past 9 months than in all the years spent growing up here. Plus I’ve met a lot of really interesting people and developed relationships with other professionals from a wide range of sectors.

- Find your local young professionals meet-up: It can be a little intimating going to a new meet-up group but with the support of a friend or co-worker it’s easy to jump in! These events are usually designed to be low stress, fun, and informative, plus many offer an opportunity to plug what you do and any upcoming fun your department has planned.

- See what local committees have vacancies:  Is there a wellness committee or walk/bike planning committee that you could serve on? Perhaps there are ways to integrate recreation resources and support, and it provides an avenue to reach out to other departments. For example, our department has representation in our local healthy living committee, juvenile crime prevention council, and Special Needs Olympics committee.

- Check the local college for seminars or special conferences: Many community colleges or universities offer continuing professional development or small business support. It can be easy to overlook these resources since public government is run much differently, but they usually offer courses on social media, marketing on a budget, leadership development courses, and more. Plus it provides another opportunity to connect with local business owners and expand who you know!

- Keep an eye out for work trainings or seminars through other departments such as Human Resources, the library, or the health department. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to what you are doing now, it may in the future, or may help you get a bigger picture of your community.

- Connect with the local Chamber of Commerce for after work events, networking, and professional support groups. They can also make great partners for future programs!

- Check out the local Tourism Development Authority. Our TDA hosts Tourism After 5 each month at different locations around the county that are always fun, interesting, and help you explore where you live.

- Finally, always make time for fun! Join a local recreation club, sport league, or team. Make sure to keep fueling your energy, interests, and passions outside of work hours!

There are so many different ways to learn about where you live, work, and play. Don’t try to do it all at once, but keep an eye out for new ways to connect and be involved outside of your official position in your city or county, and who knows who you’ll meet or what you’ll find!


Meet the Author

Laura Rice works for Henderson County Parks & Recreation Department as a Recreation Program Supervisor overseeing the Recreation Youth Soccer Program. After spending high school working as a soccer referee she found her calling in public recreation and attended Mars Hill College for her undergrad and completed the NCSU Online Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management program in 2015 for her master’s. Outside of youth sports, community programs, and continuing to learn as much as she can about just about everything, Laura is a competitive cyclist, competing in cyclo-cross and other cycling events.

Laura can be reached at lrice@hendersoncountync.org or 828-697-4885.

 

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at nicole@ncpra.net or 919-832-5868.

Tags:  community involvement  young professionals  ypn 

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May is Water Safety Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 1, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In case you did not know, May is Water Safety Month! Water safety month was created by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, with support from the National Recreation and Park Association and The American Red Cross. According to the National Water Safety Month website, May is designated to “bring safe, enjoyable aquatic activities to the American public, from home pools and spas to waterparks and resorts, to public swimming and water recreation facilities.” This wellness blog will give your department some ideas on how to celebrate.


According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an average of about 10 people per day in America die from drowning accidents. The NSC goes on to elaborate that drowning is a leading cause of death amongst Americans - with the greater risk being posed to younger children.


As recreation and park providers, your department may be a leading force in the community in offering water events. From open pool days in the summer - to kayak rentals at the local lake, the variety of water-based programs that can be offered are endless. It is very important that these programs are done in a safe manner.


One way to help implement water safety practices in your community is to offer water safety courses. These courses can range from swim lessons that emphasize pool safety rules, to safe boating practices. The American Red Cross offers courses that will teach these rules in a number of different capacities. Click this link to find a provider near you!


The official National Water Safety Month website shares a lot of resources to help in the adoption and implementation of safe water programs. Below, I have listed a few easy tips to emphasize to users of your facilities:


  • Keep pool toys not in use away from the pool

  • Implement the “buddy system” for use

  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the water first

  • Flotation devices are not meant to serve as a water supervision device


In addition to the list of tips to keep in mind when offering water based activities, the National Water Safety Month website put together a great toolkit of resources. These resources will help bring awareness to Water Safety Month and help to make your facility safer.


Planning a water safety fair is also a great way to introduce safe water practices into your community. The National Water Safety Month has arranged a guide to help in implementing water safety fairs. To learn more about how to implement a water safety fair in your community, click this link.


I hope that this blog has given you some ways to celebrate Water Safety Month! If your department does a cool water safety program, I’d love to know about it. Email me at diquan@ncrpa.net!


Until next time,


Diquan

Tags:  ncrpa wellness  wellness 

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