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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 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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YPN Blog: October 2016

Posted By Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, October 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hello Young Professionals!

My name is Nicole Miller, and I am the NCRPA Fellow. I am excited to share the first installment of the NCRPA Young Professionals Network Blog with you! This blog will feature a new post from a different young professional each month, and topics will include all things relevant to being a young professional in the field of parks and recreation.

This post will cover a topic that is currently very relevant for me: the transition from being a full-time student to being a full-time professional. Trading in your cap and gown for a suit and tie is a big change, one that personally took me several months to fully accept. Even though I graduated in May, it was not until August when reality really struck me. I was heading into my first day of work while students were heading back to campus for another year of school. There was no denying it; I was officially a young professional.

I have been working with NCRPA for about two months now, and as you can see from the picture, not much seems to have changed. However, the following are aspects of this transition that I have found the most noteworthy.

  • You are no longer the big man on campus (or in the workplace). You are now the newest employee in your office and have a lot to learn, both about your position and the office environment. Act accordingly, be respectful, and do not be afraid to ask for help from a veteran employee if you need it.

  • There is no syllabus. In school, every assignment and project had specific instructions and guidelines to follow. However, as a professional, you will often be assigned a project that does not have every little detail laid out for you. This is your opportunity to prove yourself and show your employer that they made the right decision hiring you.

  • Your performance is no longer just a reflection of yourself. If you do not complete a project, you do not just run the risk of receiving a bad grade or failing, rather you run the risk of being let go. At school, poor performance only hurt you, but on the job, your poor performance can harm the organization. Your actions and behaviors are a direct reflection of your organization.

  • It is up to you to make the most of the opportunities provided to you. This is one of the main similarities between professional life and academic life. You are given countless opportunities to get more involved, network with peers, take on new roles. However, it was not your professor’s job to make you take advantage of these opportunities, just like it is not your boss’s job. Put yourself out there; it can only make you better.

  • Your life outside of the office makes a difference. Take time for yourself outside of work. Exercise, relax, enjoy life. Learn how to focus on yourself in the real world.

Overall, with a few simple changes in my mindset (and several more substantial changes to my sleep schedule), the transition has gone smoothly, and I am settling into work here at NCRPA. I am excited to continue my journey as a professional and to continue learning along the way!

Be sure to be on the lookout for the November edition of the Young Professionals Network Blog! If you’re interested in being a guest blogger or just have a great topic idea, email me at We are always looking for more young professionals to contribute to the blog. 

Don’t forget to check NCRPA YPN webpage for all of the latest YPN events and information!

Tags:  college  student  young professionals 

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Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 10, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Recently, I attended the Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina quarterly meeting in Raleigh. Eat Smart Move More North Carolina (ESMMNC) is a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play, and pray. I learned a lot of valuable information at this meeting, and thought I would share some of it with you.

The meeting’s main topic of discussion was the North Carolina Plan to Address Obesity: Healthy Communities 2013-2020. According to the ESMMNC Obesity Prevention Plan In North Carolina, “more than two out of three adults, and 30% of children ages 10 to 17 are overweight or obese. The report goes on to state that overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancers.”

It is the belief of ESMMNC that in order to combat against this issue, individuals from different disciplines should engage in the Community Coalition Action Theory. This theory requires a collaborative effort and commitment from agencies in different disciplines within a community. Participating agencies pool their resources and knowledge together in order to work towards a common goal.

ESMMNC has identified six core behaviors to address overweight and obesity in North Carolina:

  1. Increase Physical Activity.

  2. Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

  3. Decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

  4. Reduce consumption of energy dense foods.

  5. Decrease television viewing and screen time.

  6. Increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity..

It is important to note that ESMMNC does not consider these behaviors to be a “magic bullet” which fixes the problem overnight, but rather evidence based solutions to gradually reduce overweight and obesity.

In order to encourage the adoption of these six core behaviors, ESMMNC is looking for agencies and individuals to participate in a few key strategies. They have categorized these strategies by setting including: individual & family level, childcare level, college and university level, work site level, local government level, and more. You can find all of these strategies in their entirety in the  ESMMNC Obesity Prevention Plan, but I thought that I would share some with you now:

  • Individual Level: Reduce Screen Time

  • Family Level: Support the efforts of family members striving to be healthy.

  • Childcare Level: Implement policies that ensure the amount of time toddlers and preschoolers spend sitting or standing still is minimized.

  • College Level: Provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to volunteer with community coalitions that address obesity.

  • Work Site Level: Use point-of-decision prompts to encourage the use of stairs, drinking water, and eating healthy.

  • Local Government Level: Promote joint use/community use of facilities

Hopefully, your department can continue to adopt these tactics in order to help combat against this issue. If you are interested in learning more about ESMMNC, please visit their website. There are a lot of great resources that would be very useful to parks and recreation professionals like yourself.

ESMMNC is also looking for more team members. If you are interested in joining this free organization, please visit this link. I think that it would be great to have our departments on board!

Until next time,


Tags:  ncrpa  NCRPA Wellness  wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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October is Health Literacy Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 3, 2016
Updated: Sunday, October 2, 2016

Happy October! If you did not know, October is Health Literacy Month. Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

The US Department of Health and Human Services takes the matter of health literacy very seriously. They conducted a study where health literacy was split into four different levels: proficient, intermediate, basic, and below basic. The findings of this study were startling, with only 12% of Americans having proficient health literacy.

In researching this issue, it seems like the biggest barrier contributing to the low number of individuals with proficient health literacy is confusion. A study conducted in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics backs up this claim. According to the report, the effort to  improve the problem of health literacy starts with everyone involved in causing the problem. “To start reducing the negative effects of limited health literacy, health service providers and people in the community must be knowledgeable, aware, and responsive to the health literacy of patients and consumers.”

This is where parks and recreation departments can be part of the solution. Your department can implement a few practices on the community level to encourage positive health literacy levels.

When thinking about wellness, it is important for individuals to assess how much they know about their own health, and what they can do to maintain or improve it. Assessing your own health can be difficult, but there are online tools like this one that can help.

In your parks and recreation programs, it would be very beneficial to offer similar self assessments for participants. The data gained from these assessments will help allow for participant self reflection. Additionally, the information communicated to the individual will help raise their health literacy.  

Health fairs can also be conducted to allow your communities and staff to be cognizant of their health literacy. I know that planning health fairs can be a daunting task, but in the long run they are crucial to communicate useful health information to the public. Individuals who may not be able to visit the doctor on a routine basis may be able to attend health fairs. There are a lot of useful resources online to assist in the planning process of health fairs. Hopefully, the end result from a health fair will leave attendees with a better knowledge of their health, and what they can do to make appropriate health decisions.

I hope that this wellness blog has made you aware of health literacy month. With a few steps, parks and recreation departments can be on the forefront of improving health literacy in our communities.

Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Online Fitness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016

Online Fitness


I hope everyone has had a great weekend! This week, our wellness blog is about online fitness videos. Instead of the traditional workout tape, fitness instructors are posting their exercises online through services like YouTube for free. In 2014, YouTube reported that their viewers watched 5,500 years of yoga videos alone.  I often use online workout videos in my apartment when I can’t make it out to a fitness center. They are a great way to try new workouts with minimal to no equipment needed. This wellness blog will give your parks and recreation department some tips for using online fitness videos, as well as some of my favorite resources.

Some may say that the ramifications from the emergence of online fitness videos have an adverse impact on parks and recreation departments. While people can now stay home to work out, I believe that these videos can have a positive impact on our departments and community as a whole.

A lot of departments offer workout classes, but it is inevitable that not everyone is interested in the range of options that can offer. Because YouTube is home to millions of fitness videos, it allows for very precise results. If I were looking for a video of a  workout to do for a bad back, I would have plenty of options on the web.  The ease of searching for specific workouts without having to purchase anything is an incredible benefit of YouTube, and can be utilized by your department. Although videos are free, be sure to check licensure permissions before showing them at public events.

One great way to use this resource in your recreation facilities is to designate a television in a multi-purpose room for workout videos. Think of this as another piece of fitness equipment. If your TV doesn’t allow for YouTube searching, try using one of these devices to make the process easy. Most of these devices are relatively inexpensive, and your department may already possess some of them. This would allow people the opportunity to search for specific workout videos that they may be interested in. You can even set parental controls to insure appropriate video results.  

Additionally, YouTube allows for the creation of video playlists. Your department could compile a list of general workout videos to stream continuously. This tactic can introduce the idea of using streaming sites to exercise, and inspire others to do the same. If you need help finding videos to show in your facility, try using this list which features some of the most popular online fitness classes.

Video streaming sites can also be a great marketing tool for your fitness programs.  If your department offers any exercise class, you could try to record a snippet of it to upload online. This snippet could then be shared with prospective students as a piece of marketing material.

By utilizing the power of the internet for the purpose of fitness, your department could potentially offer millions of workout videos to your community. This trend is here to stay, and I believe that parks and recreation departments can be on the forefront of offering a safe space for our communities to exercise.

Until next time,

Tags:  ncrpa wellness  wellness  wellness bulletin 

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Fall Fitness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19th, 2016


Good Morning! 


Fall has practically arrived! Athletics are in full swing, as well as the harvest of fall produce. With the change of the season, we can also look forward to a change in our weather. This change can make getting outside and active a lot more tolerable.  This week's wellness blog will give you some ideas to experience fall fitness for yourself and your recreation programs.

Fall foliage is one of the most beautiful things our state has to offer. The autumnal colors of red, yellow, and brown make for something special and are a great opportunity for outdoor recreation programs. Promote fall foliage walks throughout your parks. Find out when the peak time of fall foliage is in your area using these maps, and spread the word. This can be done using flyers and social media posts. Have participants take pictures of their walk and share them with your department.

With the fall foliage comes the clean up of those leaves once they fall. This offers a unique, fun wellness activity. Try reaching out to local community groups such as boy & girl scout troops to get their help raking leaves. As a cub scout, I remember yearly trips to a local park to help out with the maintenance. This is a fun way to get outside and active, and has some surprising health benefits.  

Visiting local family farms could also be an interesting wellness activity for fall. Whether it’s walking through a corn maze, or picking apples and pumpkins, these fall activities can offer fun wellness activities for the whole family. Some farms have volunteer opportunities for “gleaning” where volunteers can gather leftover produce after harvest. Try establishing partnerships with these family farms. These partnerships would be mutually beneficial for both your department and the farm. This could be a great field trip idea for fall track out camp programming! Your department could even work to establish a fall festival day at a family farm to get even more people there and active. For a list of pumpkin patch farms in your area, please use this map.

Fall produce is another great aspect of the season changing. I know that I have shared the North Carolina Produce Availability Chart in past posts, but this thing is truly amazing. Local produce is often cheaper, more readily available, and in my opinion tastes fresher. Apples, corn, and of course, pumpkins are some of the produce coming into season all across North Carolina.  You may be able to get cheap produce to give out during your recreation programs. Take advantage of the season and stock up on all the produce fall has to offer!

If you are looking to spend more time outdoors during the fall, consider that the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Be sure that you are not caught out in the dark!

Tags:  Fitness  wellness 

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Produce for Concessions!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12th, 2016


Good Morning!


This summer, I attended a Durham Bulls baseball game. There were a lot of concession choices in the ballpark, but one stood out from the rest. The Durham Co-op Market had a booth selling fresh watermelon, berries, and grapes for affordable prices.  This concession stand vendor immediately got me thinking about the Wellness Initiative, and how parks and recreation departments can implement similar tactics when deciding which foods to sell at events. This wellness blog will give you some ideas of how to offer healthy, fresh produce at your events.

First, when deciding what fruits and veggies to offer in concession stands, consider what is in season. This chart is something that I routinely use when shopping for produce. In-season items tend to be on sale, and are more easily accessible at farmer’s markets, produce stands, and grocery stores.

It is also a good idea to establish partnerships with local grocery stores.  Each year, 30% - 40% of food in America is wasted. If your parks and recreation department establishes a relationship with local grocery stores, some of this waste may be able to be avoided.  If your department is having a big tournament or event where concessions will be needed, try reaching out to local stores to see if they have any produce that expires soon. You may be able to get perfectly good fruits and veggies for a discounted price (or even donated).

Community Gardens could also be a great way to get fresh produce to sell at your department events. Although the yields for community gardening would probably be low, any sales from grown produce could go toward funding and maintaining the garden. This could also be a great opportunity to advertise your existing community garden program, or establish a new one. Any leftover produce from previous events that is past its expiration date could be composted and made into nutrient rich soil for the garden. To learn more about community gardens, please watch a recording of our NCRPA Wellness Webinar from April 2015.

Finally, one great idea to sell fresh produce in your concession stand is to invite local farmers market vendors to your events. They can set up shop in your facility, and sell their goods for consumption. This would cut down of staffing costs, and allow the local farmer exposure to new markets.  Vendors could return week after week, or new vendors could be featured with different produce choices. To find a North Carolina Farmer’s Market in your area, please click this link.

I hope this gives you some ideas to start selling fresh produce at your department events! If your department is serving healthy food options in your concession stands, I would love to find out more information! Please feel free to email me at

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September is Better Breakfast Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 6th, 2016 


Happy September!


If you did not know, September is Better Breakfast Month. Better Breakfast is a very important part of the Wellness Initiative for a multitude of reasons. We learned as children that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It gives our minds and bodies the fuel we need to start the day off right.  This month, the Wellness Initiative would like to encourage your department to engage in “Better Breakfast” practices. This Wellness Blog is dedicated to helping you get started on the right foot when implementing these practices.

First, the USDA recommends that breakfast contain three components from three food groups: dairy, grains, and fruit. Generally speaking, combining healthy options from these three components will create a nutritious meal that will get the day started right.

According to NPD Group, 31 million Americans skip Breakfast each day. Skipping breakfast has been linked to lower mood and energy levels, in addition to weight gain and even Type 2 Diabetes.  

So, if skipping breakfast has been linked to such horrible repercussions, why are so many Americans doing it? The same NPD Group survey found that the most common reasons for skipping breakfast were lack of hunger or desire to eat. However, these issues could be easily solved by grabbing small items such as a piece of fresh fruit, granola bar, or glass of milk on the way out. This small meal could be enough to give Americans more energy throughout the day, without leaving them feeling too full.

Another observed deterrent for eating breakfast has been the time commitment required in the morning. One way to help out with this issue is to make breakfast the night before. For example, trying a simple overnight oats recipe can assure that breakfast is waiting in the fridge ready to be eaten on the go, while still achieving the USDA guidelines!

Sadly, one in five children comes from a home that does not have the means to consistently provide nutritious food. This can be especially troubling when it comes to focusing at school. In a 2013 study, eating breakfast had a positive effect on behavior and academic performance in children. If your department has before-school care, try providing healthy breakfast items for attending children. If your department does not have before-school care, try holding a breakfast food drive where non-perishable breakfast selections can be collected and distributed to families in need.

Another way to implement Better Breakfast Month in your department is to establish one day a week to offer breakfast to your morning program participants. This would be a great way to show your customers the importance of a healthy breakfast (as well as how much you appreciate them). For this morning program breakfast, you could try to offer the following:

Finally, offer printouts of healthy breakfast recipes throughout your community facilities. Inspire people to try new healthy breakfast recipes, which will hopefully result in excitement to wake up and eat breakfast. Be sure to encourage people to share photos of the finished product on social media using the hashtag #BetterBreakfast.

If your department has any tips about how to have better breakfast, we’d love to know about it! Feel free to email me at, or submit it on our Wellness Hub here.

Tags:  Health and Wellness  ncrpa wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Pokemon Go

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 29, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August 29th, 2016


Good morning! 


Have you heard about  Pokemon Go? This phenomenon is sweeping the nation and getting players outside and active!   Pokemon Go is an augmented reality smartphone app, which inputs virtual elements into our real world using GPS. The players’ location are tracked via an avatar on their phone screen, and fictional Pokemon characters are superimposed around them. Users are required to get active to explore their surroundings in order to catch Pokemon characters, battle other users, and collect items to be used in the game at “Pokestops” (which are usually well-known landmarks in many of our parks). The popularity of Pokemon Go has soared since its release in July.  Currently, it is the top grossing game on both the Apple App store and Google Play store. With more users than Twitter, Pokemon Go (and other games like it) has potential to become a major opportunity for wellness in parks and recreation.  

Because the game requires users to get outside in order to collect items and catch Pokemon, parks and recreation departments are often hotspots for Pokemon Go users. The game keeps track of how many kilometers walked, with players receiving rewards when distance milestones are achieved . Players collect “Pokemon Eggs” throughout the game, with an incubation time based on kilometers walked.  It changes the usually sedentary activity of video game playing into an an active event, getting players to go outside and walk. The health benefits of this have been noticed by many users who are experiencing an increase in their physical activity.  Fitness tracking apps, such as Cardiogram, noticed an increase in user activity in the weekend after the release of Pokemon Go. On the day the app launched, 45% of users were exercising for 30 or more minutes. Three days after the launch, 53% of users exercised for the same interval.

Pokemon Go has additional health benefits, including being used as a tool against anxiety and depression. Since Pokemon Go requires people to spend time outdoors and exercise, it provides an extra incentive for depressed individuals to explore the world around them and connect with other people - both important aspects to fighting against these afflictions.

Personally, I have experienced these health benefits while playing Pokemon Go. Instead of driving my car short distances, I am finding myself walking instead. I have also met people while playing the game in groups, and even reconnected with a few old friends.

So how can your department get involved with this emerging wellness trend? One simple way is to use social media to connect with Pokemon Go players in your area. It can be used as a medium to communicate park rules, Pokemon hotspots, and any other pertinent information regarding your park. Try something like our friends over at Greensboro Parks and Recreation, who have created a fun, informative Facebook video about the trend. Be sure to emphasize that your parks are a great place for people to come to get active and catch Pokemon.

For more information on how your department can get involved with Pokemon Go, please attend our next Wellness Webinar: “Get Going with Pokemon Go” on September 20th at 1:00 pm. This webinar will be hosted by myself and NCRPA Fellow, Nicole Miller.  We will discuss the phenomenon of Pokemon Go, show examples of departments that are successfully implementing Pokemon Go into promotions and programs how recreation departments can embrace it to encourage physical and emotional wellness, and more. This webinar will give you a roadmap to make the most out of Pokemon Go in your community. To register, please click the following link:

If your department is doing anything cool using Pokemon Go, we’d love to hear about it! Feel free to email me at, or submit it on our Wellness Hub here


Diquan A. Edmonds | Wellness Assistant
NC Recreation & Park Association
883 Washington St, Raleigh, NC  27605
919-832-5868 |

Tags:  #NCRecre8  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer is here and the weather is warmer, especially this past weekend. Thankfully you can grab a fresh slice of orange or watermelon to cool you down! June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month and this week’s blog will highlight a few resources to get more fruits and vegetable on your plate whether it be at home or at work as part of your programs!

Buy in Season, Buy Local: Have you ever wondered, what’s in season? Well the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services makes it easy with their NC Produce Availability Chart. This chart can be used for finding the freshest and best tasting produce available. Buying your produce at a local farmer’s market, or grocery store that sources locally further ensures your produce is fresh; better yet, see if you can buy direct from a local grower. Additionally extra fruit and vegetables can be frozen and used later for anything from smoothies to fruit desserts.

Grow a Garden: Teaching citizens about healthy eating is important, but they cannot put that knowledge into practice if they do not have access to healthy food outside of class. Community gardens are a fantastic way to promote healthy eating. They can help teach people where their food comes from, and give them a chance to connect with their neighbors. Gardens can be small or large, but even a small garden can have a large impact on the health of your community. Check out our Community Garden Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Set Healthy Snack Guidelines: Parks and recreation agencies provide a lot of programming for children. Often that programming involves food, which can often be unhealthy. Providing fresh produce can be a great way to keep things healthy and expose participants to different fresh fruits and vegetables. Our wellness toolkit has some great guidelines and resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool, and other programs. Check out our Healthy Snack Guideline Page in the wellness toolkit for more info.

Quick Ideas: While large-scale projects are great, don't be discouraged if you don't have the resources to tackle a large project right away. Here are some easy things you can do to promote fresh fruits and vegetables along with wellness in your agency right now!

  • Healthy snack day at community center (provide fresh fruit and vegetables to each participant, or work with a local vendor to have a fresh fruit and vegetables food week)
  • Short health lesson with a healthy snack, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables in after-school programs.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables at staff meetings.
  • Fruit Fridays! Bring a different fruit to staff one Friday each month for a snack. Include a healthy recipe if you wish.
  • Pick up veggies from the farmer’s market (or harvest them from your garden) to share with staff.
You can also check out our webinar: 10 Ways to Improve Wellness in Your Department Now!

Tags:  Community Gardens  Health  Health and Wellness  Health Eating  Healthy Cooking  healthy eating  Healthy Foods  Healthy Lifestyle  Healthy Living  Healthy Snacks  Healthy Snacks Program  Live Healthy  Local Vendors  ncrpa  Recreation  Snack Nation  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Getting to know the NCRPA Summer Interns!

Posted By Matthew Carusona, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Thursday, June 9, 2016

This Summer NCRPA is hosting two AWESOME interns!  We asked  Hana and Andrea.a few questions to help our members get to know them. You can contact them at or 

1. What has been the best part of your internship so far?

Andrea: The most interesting part of my internship so far has been getting to go and sit in on an NCRPA board meeting! It was a great way for me to see all the moving parts of NCRPA behind the scenes.

Hana: I enjoyed visiting different departments while helping with NCRPA's events. Going to these events gives me the opportunity to meet a diverse group of parks and recreation professionals.

2. What are you most excited about moving forward?

Hana: It would be learning about how different recreation and parks organizations in our state operate and gaining knowledge to help me in my career decisions for the future.

Andrea: I am most excited to help out at the Football Summit that is partnering with USA Football and the Carolina Panthers. 

3. One cool or interesting fact people may not know about you?

Andrea: I've gone waterfall hiking in Honduras for the past two years while on orphanage outreach trips!

Hana: The past year I have been traveling all across the United States on weekends facilitating youth activities as part of an internship with Project YES!

Tags:  Blogs  intern  Local Parks  National Recreation and Park Association  NC State  ncrpa  NCSU  NRPA  Organization  Parks  Programs  Recreation  WCU  Western Carolina  Youth Programs 

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Living Healthy is a Lifestyle

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, June 6, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy Monday!

This is a bittersweet blog to write today! If you have not heard, I have officially completed my graduate assistantship with NCRPA and will be heading to Michigan to work as the Recreation Manager for the Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education Department. It has been an honor and joy working alongside NCRPA the past two years, where I have truly increased my personal knowledge of how to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. With that being said, I would love to discuss one of my favorite lessons learned during my time spent at NCRPA.

I think the best advice I have ever received was to not view living healthy as a chore but as a lifestyle. There is always a way to make eating healthy and working out regularly enjoyable and not a hindrance to your day. It all begins with the right mindset and a smart approach! An article written by HelpGuide.Org addresses three main concepts to break through any mental barriers you may have. First, you absolutely do not need to spend hours upon hours at the gym. A little exercise is better than nothing. Studies have proven even modest amounts of physical activity can positive impact your mental and emotional health. Secondly, be kind to yourself! Research has indicated that a little self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. Have faith in your ability and learn from any unhealthy mistakes. And lastly, always check your expectations. It is impossible to make changes over night. Instead of obsessing over results, just focus on remaining consistent and in control. There will be improvements that come faster, such as improved mood and energy, but the physical appearance takes time. I believe that overcoming any mental obstacles is the first step in living a fuller and more complete life. So believe in yourself and make those changes.

Thank you to everyone I have had the pleasure of working with during my time in North Carolina. It was a great experience working with supportive and dedicated recreation and park practitioners. Best of luck!

If you would like more information regarding the Wellness Initiative, please email us or submit your ideas on the wellness site here: (;



Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness Initiative 

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Summer is Coming!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Happy Tuesday!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend! With a new month beginning tomorrow and another step closer to summer, this blog will discuss wellness activities in after school and camp programs.

After school programs and summer camps are some of the largest programs that recreation and park agencies run. Additionally, it is a wonderful place to introduce and teach children about healthy lifestyles. The NCRPA Wellness Toolkit provides some small changes that you can make to your program that could have a big impact on the health of your participants.

First, adding healthy eating! If you do have control over the purchase of food for your agency’s program, consider adding some fresh produce into your snack rotation. Such as cut up apples, blueberries, strawberries or watermelon! The healthy snack guidelines and using local produce in agency programming sections of the Wellness Toolkit can help you choose and find healthy food for your program participants.

Second, adding nutritional education. Afterschool programs or camps are a great way to add a short health lesson. You can establish a weekly theme about healthy lifestyles (water safety, sun protection, eating vegetables and fruit). You can even have a weekly healthy cooking class, creating snacks that are both healthy and delicious!

Lastly, make sure you add in plenty of physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children get at least one hour of physical activity each day. You can create a policy that requires at least half an hour or one hour of activity for each day the program is offered. Check out the NCRPA Physical Activity webpage for additional information.

Your youth programs, whether it is summer or during the year, can become stronger by offering more opportunities to engage the youth, as well as providing healthy eating options. If you have youth program or healthy eating ideas, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Wellness bulletin 

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National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, May 23, 2016

Happy Monday!

May is a month packed with various health awareness opportunities! Along with it being Global Employee Health & Fitness Month, it is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! This month is a great time to spread the word about the benefits of living a more active lifestyle.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there are multiple benefits associated with physical activity ranging from children to older adults. A few examples of physical activity benefits include improving muscular fitness, bone health and heart health among children. Adults can also benefit from physical activity by lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 disease, and some types of cancer. I can list plenty of other benefits, however we all know that physical activity can greatly improve anyone’s lifestyle!

So what can your department do? Spread the word about fun ways to get moving! Using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, you can encourage families in your community to take a walk in one of your local parks or register for a weekly outdoor program! Add additional information about physical activity to your monthly e-news or newsletters, tweet about benefits of physical activity and post pictures of community members being active during the month of May! There are plenty of ideas to get individuals motivated and exercising more during the summer months. For more information, be sure to check out NCRPA’s Physical Activity Programs webpage to gather more tips and advice. 

Please stay tuned for the next webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, May 24th at 1:00pm. The webinar will be hosted by Rob Smith of Garner Recreation and Cultural Resources. This webinar will discuss how communities and organizations are recognizing the importance of park and recreation professionals when implementing health and wellness programs in their communities. Rob will identify key community partners and look at ways to leverage combined resources to improve the health and well-being of community members. To register, click the following link:

Let’s continue to inspire our departments and communities to become active during the month of May.  If you have any ideas regarding National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we would love to hear from you and your experience! Please email us or submit your ideas on the wellness site here: (,



Tags:  Healthy Living  National Physical Fitness and Sports Month 

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National Bike Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, May 16, 2016

Happy Monday!

If you did not it know already, May is National Bike Month! National Bike Month is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and is recognized by communities across the country. Since 1956, the month of May has been dedicated to encouraging people to give biking a try.

However, biking is more than just learning how to ride. Biking is a great opportunity to preserve the environment, as well as your personal health. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the top reasons people decide to bike include: turning their commute into a workout, riding to help create a healthier community, riding to avoid traffic, and riding to enjoy a lifelong sport. All of these are great reasons and benefits that also lead to a more active lifestyle. 

So how can your department get involved during the last half of May? Beginning today, Monday, May 16th to Friday, May 20th, is National Bike to Work Week! Encourage team members to ride their bikes to work, or create a riding group for after work hours. A riding group is the same concept as a run group. Decide on a day, time, location and go ride. Another way is to create a challenge among your staff.  See how many miles your department can add-up during the next couple weeks. Gear up for Friday, May 20th, this day is the official bike to work day! Round-up the troops and ride to work.

Please stay tuned for the next webinar, Tuesday, May 24th at 1:00pm. The webinar will be hosted by Rob Smith of Garner Recreation and Cultural Resources. This webinar will discuss how communities and organizations are recognizing the importance of park and recreation professionals when implementing health and wellness programs in their communities. Rob will identify key community partners and look at ways to leverage combined resources to improve the health and well-being of community members. To register, click the following link:

We hope you will work with us continue to find innovative ways to inspire your communities to become more active. Create fun and engaging challenges to encourage your town to enjoy the warm weather by riding their bikes. If you have any ideas or programs involving Bike Month, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net


Tags:  Bike to Work  League of American Bicyclists  National Bike Month 

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Wellness Webinars in Review

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9, 2016

Happy Monday!

The summer weather is right around the corner. This time of the year is a great opportunity to discuss some of the previous webinars the Wellness Initiative has hosted during the course of 2016. There is plenty of valuable information and ideas that could potentially kick start a new program within your department! The NCRPA Vimeo page has all past webinars recorded for your convenience.

The first webinar of the year in early January featured Greg Walker, Fletcher Parks and Recreation, and Mark Scott, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Asheville. Greg and Mark discussed key items when planning a 5k run/walk race and ways to make the event successful and enjoyable for the whole community. Some of their topics discussed: race location, setup, volunteers, race day timeline, race planning resources, sponsorships and corporate partners. For more information, click the following Vimeo link to listen to their webinar presentation: .

Our February webinar featured Jill Edwards, Black Mountain Recreation and Parks. Black Mountain’s Eat Smart program includes three community gardens, two youth gardens, a demonstration garden and their largest garden, the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden. Between all these various gardens in the Black Mountain community, the estimated annual produce is roughly 13,000 pounds! The Eat Smart Black Mountain program works to promote healthy eating and active living through hands-on gardening and nutritious programs. If you missed out on this informative webinar, click the following Vimeo link to watch:

The March webinar featured Jennie Sumrell, Director of Education at PlayCore. She discussed ways to attract more children and families to local community trails and parks. The webinar was designed to explore best practices for intentionally infusing play into outdoor environments in an effort to promote family fun, encourage healthy physically activity, and reconnect people of all ages to nature. For more information, click the following Vimeo link:

During our most recent webinar, Larry Cassella, Employee Wellness Coordinator for Town of Cary, discussed wellness programs, and why evaluating and understanding how to define ‘value’ is critical in fully defending worksite health promotion efforts. He also discussed how this can connect back to park and recreation departments. For more information, click the following Vimeo link to watch the webinar presentation:

Please stay tuned for the next webinar, Tuesday, May 24th at 1:00pm. Rob Smith, Garner Recreation and Cultural Resources, will be hosting. Parks and recreation professionals have always known the important role we play in the health and wellness of our communities. Now others are recognizing our capabilities. In this webinar, we will identify community partners and look at ways to leverage our combined resources to improve the health and well-being of our citizens. To register, click the following link:

If you would like to host a webinar or have a question regarding future webinars, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Health  healthy living  Wellness Initiative  Wellness Webinars 

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