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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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50 at 50 | October 20

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017
This week I headed to a meeting in Sneads Ferry and if you don’t know where that is, get out your NC map, look toward the coast and you’ll find it just inland from Surf City and that is the site of this week’s new to me park visit. Soundside Park is aptly named as it sits along the sound’s edge overlooking the Intracoastal waterway. There is a lot happening in this small space with fishing piers, boat ramp, picnic shelters, boardwalk with educational displays, chairs around the boardwalk for watching the world go by, amphitheater and playground. The playground at the park was funded by the Surf City Town Council along with the former Volunteer Surf City EMS Squad. This is the first time I’ve seen a “climbing fish” as part of the playground, and it was very impressive.

While I was there, I saw a number of trucks pulling boats heading to the boat ramp. There were children playing on the playground and what appeared to be a grandfather and grandson walking along the boardwalk. A sign at the entrance to a section of the boardwalk caught my eye. It was a hiking icon with the initials MST. I had found a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail. The park is also the site of the Surf City Summer Market with arts, crafts and produce each Tuesday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The day of my visit had near-perfect weather, and the only complaint I have about my visit is that it wasn’t long enough. I could have spent the rest of my day there watching boats go by and the bridge swing open and close to accommodate waterway traffic.

If you make your way to Surf City or Topsail, add a stop to Soundside Park to your agenda. For more information on Soundside Park or to view their slideshow visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Surf City 

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Halloween Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 16, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Halloween is right around the corner! With all of the candy and sweet treats associated with the holiday, it can be hard to create healthy Halloween programming. This wellness blog will give your department a few ideas to incorporate healthy ideas into your Halloween programmings.

Trick-or-Treaters are normally expecting candy, but they may be just as happy with other fun Halloween related giveaways. Websites like Oriental Trading are great places to find non-candy alternatives to hand out at your Halloween events. Giveaway items like kites, balls, and frisbees would be great ways to get kids outside and active while still getting in the Halloween spirit.

If your department is handing out candy there are a few policies you can enact. Limiting the amount given to a few pieces per person. Mixing candy with non-candy giveaways could also be a good tactic. Additionally, candy selection can be vital. This website has listed calories, sugar (G), and fat (G) of popular Halloween candy. Some selections are better than others!

Halloween can be a surprisingly effective way to get people outside and walking. If you think about it, the act of trick-or-treating does a great job of promoting walking! This could be a great way for your department to encourage people to come out to your facilities, walk around in their costumes, and collect goodies.

If your department has a greenway, trail system, or walkable park, try setting up a Halloween event! Set up stations along a designated path with different Halloween crafts, trick-or-treat goodies, and activities.

To promote health and wellness, one station could “spooky” exercises like “Frankenstein Walks” and more contained in this website. Another station could include recipe cards for healthier Halloween treats.

For adults and children, Halloween themed 5k runs/walks, haunted trails, and more could be good options. Create a fun environment by allowing people to come to these events dressed in their costumes, and provide a safe place for them to run/walk.

Last year, the wellness initiative wrote about the idea of Halloween candy buy-back programs. Dentist offices have been doing these types of programs for a while and could be a great partnership for your department. Check out this link to check out our Halloween themed post from 2016.  

I hope this helps you in planning your Halloween events for this year and in the future!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 | October 13

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 13, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 12, 2017

Earlier this week, I headed out for a park that I often see in online reviews and social media posts - Knightdale’s Station Park. All the information I had seen focused on the playground area that has a train/farm theme. Well, I was surprised when I made a right turn into the park. It was so much more than the play area I had been exposed to online.

In 2011 the town had the opportunity to purchase a former nursery in downtown Knightdale and plans for Knightdale Station were set in motion. Opened in September 2013, the 76-acre park offers two miles of paved trails through groves of trees and along a boardwalk on a pond, the town’s first dog park, athletic fields, and a playground. The farm and train-themed play area is a reminder of Knightdale’s railroad and agricultural past. There’s a train with tunnel and slides, a working railroad crossing with lights and bells, a 2-story silo, a play chicken coop, a corral of bouncy horses, a cow to climb on and lots to inspire the imagination. Phase II is underway with tennis courts, an amphitheater, farmers market, and arboretum. 

I loved the train depot feel in the design of the shelters that are used for the farmers market and other outdoor events. Even though it was a cloudy day and had recently rained, the playground was full of kids representing a plethora of ages. And three furry friends were getting their play on in the dog park. As a walker, I liked that the greenway in the park was not just a loop around the perimeter but meandered through the park and gave a walker multiple options to craft their own walking experience.

If you are traveling on Hwy 264 or Interstate 540 in eastern Wake County, I recommend a quick detour to see Knightdale Station Park for yourself. For more information on the park visit

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Tags:  50at50  knightdale  parks  recreation 

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NRPA Instructor Training Grants

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2017

NRPA is partnering with the CDC to offer grants to help improve healthy aging in your departments.This wellness blog will detail the three different grant opportunities that are being offered, and provide information on how to apply.

According to the NRPA grant application, “NRPA is seeking local park and recreation agencies to join efforts to increase the availability, participation, and sustainable support for programs that positively impact chronic disease management, increases in physical activity, and the quality of life for individuals.” It is worth noting that each of the grant opportunities that will be discussed in this wellness blog are for instructor training.

The first instructor training grant that NRPA and the CDC are providing help in delivering Walk with Ease programs. Walk with Ease is an evidence-based walking program geared towards older adults with arthritis. It is a low-impact six-week program, that offers structured walks and provides information to participants. The program helps to teach people how to safely and comfortably incorporate physical activity into their everyday lifestyle. There are 175 instructor grants available for this opportunity, with a maximum of two grants awarded per department.

The second instructor training grant opportunity is for the Active Living Every Day program. Active Living Every Day is a 12-week program that that teaches sedentary people the skills necessary to overcome barriers to physical activity. According to their website, “Active Living Every Day (ALED) uses facilitated group-based problem-solving methods to integrate physical activity into everyday living.” There are 50 of these grants available through NRPA, with each a maximum of two grants awarded per department.

Lastly, Fit & Strong is the third instructor training grant being offered. Fit & Strong is a physical activity and behavioral-change 8 or 12-week program that teaches sedentary adults with joint pain and stiffness how to engage in safe and effective exercise. This program has “has demonstrated significant functional and physical activity improvements in this population.” 50 Fit & Strong grants will be awarded by NRPA, with a limit of two grants per department.

All three of these grants would be a great way for your department to encourage healthy aging through your programs. These programs are all evidenced based interventions and endorsed by NRPA. Additionally, all of the instructor training will be conducted online!

To find out which one(s) of these programs would be appropriate to incorporate in your department, use this program assessment tool provided by NRPA. Then, apply for the programs at this link. There are already a handful of departments in North Carolina who have implemented one or more of these programs and I’d love to see even more!

Until next time,

Tags:  funding  grants  money  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | October 6

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 6, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 5, 2017
Last week, I was New Orleans for the NRPA Conference, along with about 7000 park and recreation professionals, students and educators and that doesn’t include all the vendors in the exhibit hall. One of my goals while there was to find a park for this week’s blog. I just didn’t know how easy that task was going to be. I walked past the park and stopped to take my first picture before arriving at the front door of my hotel. The view from my room overlooked the park, so I got to watch it early morning and late evenings as well.

What made me stop and take my first picture was a sculpture outside the park entrance. It was a tree with a house up in the branches. I had found the Mississippi River Heritage Park. A park honoring the people and remembering the events that occurred on August 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina. This park is 1.36 acres and is directly across the street from the convention center. Surrounded by wrought iron fencing with six gates and entrances, the park serves the historic warehouse district and provides a beautiful respite for convention center visitors. It is the site of corporate and convention events, concerts, filming as well and serving as a wedding venue.

I made it a habit to walk through or around this park every day at different times of the day to see what happens there. I saw a lady throwing a ball with her dog, conference attendees enjoying the sunshine and filming video for a work project. I saw people just being quiet and enjoying some outside time. On one of my visits, I saw two Public Safety Rangers and stopped to chat with them. The signs at the entrance gates clearly state the park gates are locked at night - and they were when I checked so I wanted to know who was responsible for the task of opening and closing the park. They told me the task is shared jointly between the Public Safety Rangers and the security staff at the convention center.

Although NRPA did not hold an event at this park, I can see where it would be a great location to have an outside social if you were meeting at the convention center. Something that appealed to me about this park were amenities like benches and flower gardens outside of the locked gates so even after hours, you could enjoy the area.

For more information on the Mississippi River Heritage Park visit

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Tags:  #NOLA  #NRPAConference #NCRecre  50at50 

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YPN Blog: October 2017

Posted By Nicole Miller, PNC Arena / Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Updated: Friday, September 22, 2017

Hey everyone! It’s hard to believe that I have worked for NCRPA for over a year. This year seems to have flown by, yet last fall feels like ages ago. I have gotten to work on a variety of projects; each of which has helped me learn and grow in some capacity as a young professional. One of those projects was to increase the activity and visibility of NCRPA’s Young Professional Network.

 NCRPA’s Young Professional Network (YPN) is comprised of young professionals and students from within NCRPA’s membership who want to give back to their communities and the field of parks and recreation while growing professionally; they are the rising leaders of this field. I was thrilled to get to make our YPN even better for them. Part of revamping the YPN was the creation of the YPN Blog in October 2016. The blog is now officially a year old, and I am excited to get to contribute again. This monthly blog discusses topics that affect young professionals, and a different young professional writes the post each month. The blog provides an outlet for future leaders to share their voice and experiences with professionals from across the state and allows them to write about a topic for which they have a passion. As I said before, each project that I’ve worked on at NCRPA has taught me something, and I can wholeheartedly say that the Young Professional Blog is the gift that keeps on giving in that regard – I get to learn something new with each new blog post.

 If you’ve missed any of the blog posts, I highly suggest taking the time to go back and read them. They are interesting and insightful, and, as I said before, full of useful advice and information that can help make you a better professional. You can check out any of the blog posts at the links below, and they are always available on NCRPA’s NC Recre8’er blog.

 October 2016 – Transition from full-time student to full-time employee: Nicole Miller, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

 November 2016 – Benefits of getting involved with NCRPA as a young professional: Jared Mull, Transylvania County Parks and Recreation

 December 2016 – Navigating generational differences in the workplace: TJ McCourt, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 January 2017 – Taking on leadership roles as a young professional: Katy Keller, Indian Trail Parks and Recreation

 February 2017 – The importance of internships: Vicky Harley, Kernersville Parks and Recreation

 March 2017 – Parks and Recreation-“Leading through Innovation”: Eliza Kiser, Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources

 April 2017 – Embracing public speaking and overcoming nerves: Leanne Pressley, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks

 May 2017 – Getting involved in your community outside of work: Laura Rice, Henderson County Parks and Recreation

June 2017 – Importance of part-time work in advancing your career: Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association

July 2017 – From Youth Council member to Youth Council Director: Jasia Stevenson, Greensboro Parks and Recreation

August 2017 – Being involved with NCRPA as a student and career development: Jennifer Games, Hickory Parks and Recreation

Even if you think that one of the blogs doesn’t apply to you personally, share it with your peers and team members, so they can benefit from it. As you can see, these blogs are written by a variety of people with diverse of passions, personalities, and interests, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to succeed in and contribute to the field of parks and recreation.

Want to share your passion, experience, or expertise with your peers by writing a YPN Blog post? Reach out to me, and let’s make it happen.

Meet the Author

Nicole joined NCRPA in 2016, relocating from Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Elon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Event Management, with Minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She has previously worked for Graham Recreation and Parks as an Athletics Intern during her time at Elon, and she interned for the Burlington Royals Minor League Baseball team in summer 2015. In her free time, Nicole volunteers with the SPCA of Wake County, is involved with the Triangle Civitan Club, and keeps the local Bruegger’s Bagels in business (one everything bagel and iced coffee please!).

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

Tags:  blog  ncrpa  young professionals  ypn 

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NC Shines at NRPA Best of the Best Ceremony

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Wednesday, October 4, 2017

From agency accreditation, program awards, and individual awards, NC was well represented at the NRPA Best of the Best Ceremony in New Orleans last week.  A special congratulations to all of those who received recognition.  CAPRA Accreditation:  Mooresville Parks & Recreation, CAPRA Re-Accreditation:  Greensboro Parks & Recreation and Kernersville Parks & Recreation; COAPRT Re-Accreditation:  NC State University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, National Distinguished Professional Award:  Dr. Phillip S. Rea, National Partnership Award:  Durham Parks and Recreation, and Diversity Scholarship winner Kobeyeh Riley.

We welcome Mooresville Parks & Recreation as the newest NC CAPRA Accredited agency in our state.  What makes the Mooresville Parks and Recreation shine so brightly? It’s the little things and the big things, too. It’s programmers bringing play to underserved communities in a Mobile Rec Unit. It’s staff and volunteers growing hundreds of pounds of garden produce for the concession stands and community soup kitchen. It’s Wi-Fi and webcams throughout the park system. It’s thousands of people enjoying programs, parks, trails, community centers, ballfields, aquatic facilities and so much more. It’s a dedicated staff working every day to build a healthy and more livable community. And that is what makes Mooresville shine!

Mooresville Parks & Recreation

Reaccredited this year we have Greensboro Parks & Recreation and Kernersville Parks & Recreation.  Greensboro Parks and Recreation is located in the third largest city in the State of North Carolina. The department was formed in 1933 and continues to provide professional and diverse leisure opportunities through inclusive programs, facilities, parks and open space. It is dedicated to making Greensboro a desirable place to work, live and play, and its goal is to build better lives and a better community. The foundation of all programs, services, facilities, parks, and gardens is based on achieving the four pillars of CARE: Creating economic impact, Advancing conservation, Rejuvenating health and wellness, and Enhancing the quality of life.

Kernersville Parks and Recreation is an integral part of the community. The department’s services increase the citizen’s quality of life as well as promote tourism into Kernersville. A staff of 15 full-time and 20 part-time employees manages eight town-owned parks, three joint-use facilities, two buildings, welcome signs, common green spaces, and landmarks. The department provides passive, active and cultural opportunities.

Receiving their COAPRT accreditation is NC State University Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department.  North Carolina State University: Department of Park, Recreation, and Tourism.  Established in 1947 and first accredited in 1977, the Department was the first nationally accredited degree program of its kind in the United States. The department seeks to advance and disseminate scholarship concerning management and use of natural and cultural resources for recreation, tourism, and sport through research, teaching and public engagement. The department is dedicated to preparing students to be lifelong learners and leaders in a global society, committed to developing parks, recreation, tourism and sport resources that improve quality of life and are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Dr. Phillip S. Rea received the National Distinguished Professional Award.  Phil Rea has served the field of parks and recreation as a distinguished leader, practitioner, and educator. He served as superintendent of one of America’s largest urban parks and as a faculty member at Indiana University and at North Carolina State University. He received the Distinguished Alumni, Hall of Fame and Outstanding Alumni Award from Indiana University, the Hall of Fame Award from the N.C. Recreation and Park Association and numerous other awards. He directed three schools at Oglebay, serving thousands of parks and recreation professionals.

The National Partnership Award was presented to Durham Parks & Recreation.  The mission of Durham Parks and Recreation (DPR) is to “Play More: Connecting our whole community to wellness, the outdoors, and lifelong learning.” The department strives to help citizens discover, explore and enjoy life through creative and challenging recreational choices that contribute to their physical, emotional and social health. DPR offers sports and recreational programs to improve fitness, cultural events to enlighten and educate, environmental education programs to explore the natural world and community-based celebrations to inspire civic pride.

Kobeyeh Riley received a Diversity Scholarship.   He has served the communities of Mecklenburg County and Mooresville in the administration, aquatics, parks, programs and therapeutic recreation divisions. He served these roles as a programmer, program supervisor and interim parks and recreation director. Mr. Riley serves North Carolina as NCRPA region officer and as a NCRPA  awards & citations committee member. He earned a master’s of science in 2014 and has received the NCRPA Young Professional of the Year award (2014) and the NCRPA Arts & Humanities award (2012). 

To view the full Best of the Best Ceremony program visit and to view photos of the winners visit (LINK HERE)

We are proud to call each of you part of the NCRPA family and thank you for all you do for the profession in our state!

Tags:  #NRPAConference #NCRecre 

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Fall is here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 2, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall is officially here! With cooler temperatures, great produce, and the start of the holiday season, autumn brings a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.  This wellness blog will give your department a few ideas to incorporate wellness into your fall programming.

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 this map, 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.

Cooler temperatures and beautiful fall foliage could create the perfect environment to take “indoor” programs outside. Check out this recording of our September Wellness Webinar a few weeks ago to get insight on moving group fitness courses outdoors.

Fall produce is another great aspect of the season changing. The North Carolina Produce Availability Chart is a handy resource to use will give you all of the seasonal produce. 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!

Another way to incorporate fall produce into your programming is to hold a fall harvest celebration! These celebrations are covered in depth in the NRPA October Community Health and Gardening curriculum. Click this link to check it out!

One more resource to look at pertaining to fall fitness is this article from This post offers 10 tips for fall fitness and includes tips like dressing in layers, taking advantage of the weather, and prepare for extended hours of darkness. Be sure to keep these tips in mind when planning fall festivities.

I hope that this wellness blog has given you some great ideas for fall!

Until next time,


Tags:  fitness  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 | September 29

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 29, 2017
Updated: Sunday, September 24, 2017
Due to the addition of the Highway 64 bypass, it had been a number of years since I had been to Pittsboro and drove the circle around the historic courthouse.  Pittsboro is located in Chatham County, has a population of about 4000, and it is expected to increase to 48,000 by 2030.  Last week I ventured to Pittsboro for this week’s park blog at the invitation of Park Planner Paul Horne.

Mary Holmes Park is where we went first and what a treat it was.  The park has a mix of open space and shaded wooded areas with art and play structures throughout.  Opened in 2009, this 10-acre park has lots of features designed to spark the imagination of its visitors.  There were limited formal structures but lots of rocks and natural areas that encourage play.  

The family of Mary Hayes Barber Holmes donated the land for the park when building the neighboring development.  The park has a picnic shelter, a misting spray fountain, ⅓ mile of greenway, rain garden, green roof, shelter and an open field where a local group plays soccer as the town does not offer any recreational programming.  Rocks and pieces of white oak offer seating around the open space and in other areas of the park.  A winner of a NCASLA honor award for design, the park has many green features including permeable pavers in the parking lot.  Even though the park was quiet while I was there, I learned that in the evenings and on the weekends it is a busy place.  The few people I did see on my visit were enjoying the park just as I was.  

Besides the natural beauty of the park, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness that was incorporated into the design.  This small space offers such a variety of leisure opportunities for the community in a compatible design.  And the coolest thing I saw was the climbing ‘apparatus’ in what some would call the playground. These components were built mostly on-site from rebar, styrofoam, wire similar to chicken wire and a few other materials  These structures jut out of the ground and if you look across the way, you can see a rock wall with a dragon’s head.  How cool is that?

For more information on Mary Hayes Barber Holmes Park located at 304 Old Rock Springs Cemetery Road in Pittsboro, visit their website

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Tags:  50at50  naturalplay  parks  recreation 

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Walk to School Day

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 25, 2017
Updated: Monday, September 18, 2017

Next Wednesday, October 4th is Walk to School Day! Walk to School Day is a great opportunity to partner with your local school system to encourage the use of nearby park and recreation land as safe routes to get to school. This wellness blog will detail Walk to School Day and give your department some tips on how to get involved.

According to the Walk to School Day website, “International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day. It began in 1997 as a one-day event. Over time, this event has become part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation – each October. Today, thousands of schools across America – from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – participate every October.”

Walk to School Day was created by the National Center for Safe Routes to School, who believes “in the importance and joy of safe walking and biking. We provide ways for communities to get started and offer the best information available to make the future they envision a reality.”

Walking, in general, has tons of health benefits. First, it can help children build stronger bones, increase stamina, and decrease the risk for obesity. Walking to school can encourage your community to incorporate regular physical activity into their daily routines. As we know, physical inactivity can lead to negative health outcomes like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. If participating in Walk to School day is an enjoyable experience, participants may want to make it a regular thing!

According to the Walk to School Day website, encouraging walking to school has a lot of other benefits including:


  • Safer streets - Communities with higher rates of walking and bicycling tend to have lower crash rates for all travel modes.

  • Cleaner Environment - When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles. 

  • Promoting Safety - Priority must be placed on making it possible for everyone to walk safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones. 

To view a full list of benefits, please visit this page!

How can your department get involved with Walk to School Day? See if your local schools are registered for Walk to School Day at this website. This may be the opportunity for a great partnership! For example, if your department has any trail or greenway system that leads to near a school, these could be great routes to encourage the use of. Additionally, your before and after school programming may be a great place to start.

If you are participating in Walk to School Day, I’d love to know about it! Email me at to share. Have a great week!

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  walking  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 22

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 22, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017
On Tuesday, Wanda Parmlee, Nicole Miller, and I were fortunate to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new San-Lee Park Nature Center. The story of this new building begins 2 years, 10 months and 2 days before the ribbon cutting with a fire that destroyed the previous building. I recall hearing about this fire on my local TV station and from conversations I had with Lee County Parks & Recreation staff soon after the fire, I learned many groups assisted with the housing and care of the animals that survived the fire until they could be returned to the park.

San-Lee Park was opened in 1978 and is 177 acres. This property and the pumping station that housed the previous nature center was constructed in 1933 and served as the water supply for Sanford. When a new water supply was built by the city, the county worked to obtain this property and develop an educational park.

As the saying goes, a phoenix rises from the ashes and that is the case at San-Lee Park. Surrounded by 2 lakes for fishing and paddle boats, 12 miles of top-rated mountain biking trails, 4 miles of hiking trails, tent camping facilities, and a meadow with a small playground and open space, the nature center is the feature attraction. At just over 6000 square feet inside and a 2300 square feet deck overlooking the lake, this facility has exhibition space to allow visitors to learn about nature and the animals kept in the center. In addition to the exhibits, the center has a classroom for programming, an event space with kitchen and access to the desk, along with office space for the staff.

I think Amy Dalrymple, Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners shared some important words, “this is something for Lee County residents to be proud of and to remember that is it important to get outside and take a breath of fresh air”. In closing, she encouraged all to bring their families and tell their friends. I would concur, tt is a place I want to visit again with my friends.

You can find San-Lee Park at 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford, NC and more information about the park at

Note: Special thanks to Lee County Parks & Recreation and HH Architecture for inviting the NCRPA staff to join you in the celebration.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  50at50  Nature  parks  recreation 

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Outdoor Group Fitness Courses

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This Friday, September 22nd at 1:00 pm, Kasey Summers from Mount Airy Parks and Recreation joins us for our September Wellness Webinar! Kasey will discuss the city's outdoor group fitness classes. The webinar will discuss courses offered, challenges of offering group fitness classes outdoors, instructor training, and more! This wellness blog will focus on group fitness courses and offer more ideas on events to bring outside now that the weather is a bit milder.

Group fitness courses are a very popular way that people consume fitness. Studies have shown that that fellow exercisers keep you motivated while exercising and that watching others & learning proper form reduces the risk of injury.

There are a variety of other benefits to group fitness courses including accountability, socialization, consistent schedule, and when developed by a qualified instructor, a safe and effective workout.

When offering group fitness courses, selecting a qualified instructor may be the difference between a great class and a not so great class. There are a number of pieces of training that are available to instructors, including a variety of different certification programs.

Organizations that offer certifications to look for include the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness, and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Additionally due to the rigorous aspect of group fitness courses, selecting an instructor with a CPR/AED Certification may be a good idea.

Additionally, this time of year brings the opportunity to move programs back outside. While our webinar focuses on outdoor group fitness courses, there are other traditional indoor activities that can be moved outdoors. Even if it is not a planned outdoor course, on a beautiful mild Autumn day, you could give registrants the choice to go outside. This would give them the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and the added benefits of vitamin D from the sun.

I hope that you join us on this Friday, September 22nd for our wellness webinar! This topic will be covered in detail, along with some great examples of how you can bring this concept to your department. To register for the webinar, click this link.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 15

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 15, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
One afternoon, I found myself in Rolesville. You might ask yourself, where is Rolesville. It is nestled in northeastern Wake County just outside of Raleigh. It is the second oldest town in Wake County and one of the fastest growing towns in our state for the past several years. After a visit to the parks and recreation office, I made my way to Main Street Park - located as you might have guessed at 200 South Main Street.

Main Street park is about 36 acres and was established in 2005. In addition to the four shelters, gazebo, open play field, and two playgrounds, the park has just over one mile of greenway trail. This greenway has exercise equipment that was added soon after the park opened before many other locations began to incorporate this feature into greenways. The town is currently working with Wake County Parks, Recreation & Open Space to connect the greenway in Main Street Park to their greenway at Mill Bridge Nature Park. From here, the greenway trails currently connect with the Wake Forest Parks & Recreation greenways giving citizens from both towns access to multiple greenways and parks.

Sanford Creek Elementary School shares a border with the park, and the greenway connects to the school’s multipurpose field. In the past, on National Walk to School Day, the Rolesville Mayor has met the kids in the park, and they all walked to school.

In my conversations with Parks & Recreation Director JG Ferguson at his office, he shared that earlier in the morning he had seen buses from 3 daycare centers in the park. During my visit, I was fortunate to see people of all ages enjoying the park. An older couple were walking the greenway, lots of kids were enjoying the playgrounds, and a family was having dinner at a picnic shelter. All wonderful ways to spend a summertime evening.

For more information on Main Street Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Rolesville 

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Back to School Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 11, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 25, 2017

With traditional school back in full swing, I thought it would be a good idea to cover some healthy practices that your department should adopt for your out of school time programs. Whether it is before and after school care, or a track out camp program, this wellness blog will give you some ideas to implement healthy practices.

The first practice to consider is adopting the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) Healthy Out of School Time Standards (HOST). According to the AHG website, the HOST standards “gives out-of-school time providers a science-based framework designed to help create environments where youth are encouraged to eat healthier and move more.” The website continues to say “Our initiative works to support the staff, families, and youth at these sites (Afterschool programs, community centers, summer camps, and other out-of-school time settings) around the country in their efforts to help young people make healthy life choices.

To assist in the adoption of HOST standards in your department, there are a few steps to take. First, take the HOST assessment. This assessment helps your department identify current strengths and weaknesses for 11 Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards.

To learn more about the HOST Standards, click this link to read the wellness blog post from March.

NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative has also compiled resources to help in offering healthy snacks to the children in your programs. First, there’s the Healthy Snacks Guidelines page on the Wellness Toolkit. This page provides guidelines for selecting healthy options to have for children in your programs, as well as other resources to help you incorporate healthy snacks into your department.

Additionally, check out our NCRPA Wellness Webinar from 2014. This webinar expands on the information in the wellness toolkit and will give you more information on offering healthy snacks in your out of school time programming.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has developed healthy eating and physical activity standards for children grades K-12 that are in before-school, after-school, and summer camp program through their Commit to Health program.  These standards include a number of physical activity and healthy eating goals. For a summarized version of the standards, visit the NCRPA Wellness Toolkit.

I hope that this wellness blog has given you some resources to help with your back to school programming!

Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 8

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 8, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, September 6, 2017
I recently made a trek to the Piedmont region of our state and had the opportunity to stop in Kernersville. Just a few miles off I-40 and near the heart of downtown I found Harmon Park. When looking for a park on the town’s website, the story of this park is what attracted me to it. When I talked to Parks & Recreation Director Ernie Pages and got more information, I was delighted I made this my pick.

This is the first park for the town of Kernersville and it became a park in the 1930’s. It is named after D.W. Harmon who served as the Town Clerk in the 1920’s. Upon his death, he bequeathed part of his land to the town to become its very first town park. On the corner of the property is a little house. This house served as Mr. Harmon’s office, and later as the town hall, police department, library and now is the office for the Kernersville Little Theatre.

At just over 2 acres, this park has a lot going on with a picnic shelter, wedding gazebo, fountain, playground, open space and flower garden. I noticed that most everything in the park had a plaque dedicating the item to the memory of someone. On the town’s website, I found out that in the spirit of Harmon’s original donation many other town citizens have donated additions to this park over the years.

Harmon Park is the site of the first Declan’s Playground built in honor of Declan Donoghue and his spirit of play. Declan passed away at the age of 2. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations. Due to his love of playgrounds, his family worked with the town to build a playground in his honor and donated 40-50% of the cost. With a second Declan’s Playground at another Kernersville park, the family has also built or planned playgrounds in Greensboro and High Point.

As I was taking a few pictures at the park, a lady spoke to me and said she and her grandson came every day. I questioned her on the everyday part and she said, “yes, every day.” She is his daytime caregiver and every morning he asks to go the park. So that is what they do. Hearing of his love for the park and playground made me smile. If you ever question if our profession has an impact, hearing a story like this should give us all affirmation that it does.

I wish my schedule that day had allowed me more time to just sit on a bench, listen to the fountain and watch the kids play. With several picnic tables and its proximity to downtown, I can imagine it is a popular spot at lunch time on pretty days. Maybe on a return visit, I will be able to do just that.

For more information on Harmon Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Kernersville  parks  Recreation 

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