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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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What is your Impact?

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, February 4, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2016



As a profession we often focus on the economic impact parks & recreation has on a community. But that is just a small piece of how our jobs can change lives and impact communities .  
- Photo courtesy of Burlington Recreation & Parks  


Did you know Operations and Capital Spending at Local and Regional Parks in NC created just over $3 Billion in economic activity in 2013 and supported 26,278 jobs in our state?  The Economic Impact of Local Parks* study, provides estimates of the direct, indirect and induced effects of local and regional park agency spending on the economy. The spending in the study includes both annual operations and capital expenditures. The report includes estimates of economic output, value added (i.e., GDP), employment and labor income.  This study allows us to quantify what this profession does in our state.  NRPA has worked to put a numeric value on what we do.  Thank you NRPA!


But our impact is more than just dollars and cents right?


Is it Increased self-esteem for youth participants?


What about better physical fitness for people of all ages?


Stress reduction?


Cleaner air and water?




It is all of those things, and so much more!


I’m pretty sure if I were to ask each of you how you make an impact in your community, I would find some similarities in answers. I also think there would be some unique answers which hold special meaning to just you. 


The truth of this question is that we probably only know a small amount of the impact we have.  There are so many untold stories of how a person’s life has been positively changed by this profession.  The next time you are at one of your programs or facilities, take a moment and look at the people.  Look at their faces.  Notice the smiles.  That is a result of positive impact. 


While it may seem we are always focused on the economic impact of what we do for our communities, we cannot discount the everyday things we do as park and recreation professionals that enhance the quality of life for the people we serve.


Never forget this profession allows you the opportunity to give smiles.  And when the stresses of the job seem overwhelming, look for the smiles and remember the passion you have for this profession!



*The Economic Impact of Local Parks, commissioned by NRPA and conducted by George Washington University –

Tags:  Awareness  Blogs  Community Building  Family  Healthy Living  NCRPA  Parks  Programs  Recreation  Youth Programs 

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American Diabetes Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy November,

It is hard to believe the fall months are nearing an end as we head into November. November is a busy month, preparing for Thanksgiving and family gatherings! Amongst the excitement, it is important to take steps that promote  and maintain a healthy lifestyle and community. November is officially known as American Diabetes Month and is dedicated to raising awareness of Diabetes across the nation.

There are two types of diabetes that are known. Type one is insulin-dependent, meaning that sufferers have to inject the insulin hormone into their bodies in order to produce what the body can’t. Type two is not insulin dependent, but means that one has high blood pressure and a decreased amount of insulin within the body. Recently statistics on the American Diabetes webpage states that nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes. Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The cause of type one diabetes is still being researched but there are several risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. Some of these risk factors include weight, diets, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure.

So what are program opportunities that aid in helping increase awareness of the risks of developing type two diabetes? One idea suggested by the American Diabetes Association is to provide your employees with resources to access online tools communicating lifestyle information. Our Employee Wellness Programs page displays two ideas of how to implement physical activity and healthy eating within your department established by Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, and Kannapolis Parks and Recreation.


Garner led a series of healthy lunches that were followed by a health-centered presentation or activity encouraging staff members to create healthier choices for programs and events offered to the public. Kannapolis encouraged employees to become more active by passing out pedometers and tracking their steps on a large map. They also conducted biweekly mid-day fitness & team building activities to encourage participants to become involved and healthy.


An additional strategy is to share Healthy Snack Guidelines with your community. Unhealthy eating habits can be a major  contributor to the development of type two diabetes. These Guidelines provides resources for increasing healthy snacks and food in sports, camp, afterschool and other programs. You can implement healthy snack options among your fall sport teams. Share recipes, ideas and types of snacks through the use of social media, such as: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Our next webinar, Tuesday, November 10th at 1:00pm, will also discuss a program that encourages community members to be active and physically fit. Aaron David and Kristen Herndon, Graham Recreation and Parks Department will be hosting. The topic will focus on the Graham Walks program, which is a 5 week incentive-based walking program held during the spring and fall. Programs like Graham Walks generates inspiration within the community for members to reach the recommended exercise per week. Please register for the webinar to learn more of how you can start programs like Grahams within your own department:


During the month of November and beyond lets work together to help North Carolina communities to be healthy while we support efforts to battle this illness affecting thousands of children and adults. If you have any programming ideas to promote healthy eating and physical activity within your community then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,




Tags:  american diabetes month  awareness  Healthy Living 

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National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, August 31, 2015

Happy Monday!


It is hard to believe another month has passed us by! As we enter into September, it is essential that we recognize National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Why is this month important to promote? Not only is it part of our mission to encourage healthier lives in our communities, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. This statistic can directly correlate with immediate and at times long-term health issues, such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and asthma. This month make the extra effort and help to create change by spreading ideas to prevent childhood obesity.

So what are some ideas?

It is easier to implement changes in your community if you start off with small changes. Start by sharing ideas that lead to minor changes, such as keeping fresh fruit always within reach or going on a family walk after dinner. As always using social media outlets to engage your community is a simple and cost effective way to spread your message; try using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or the monthly newsletter. You can also engage your community to create content by having members post pictures and stories of youth and families being active in your community. One last idea is to ask a local doctor or nurse to host an educational session at a department event preventing childhood obesity. Gathering real advice and statistics from doctors will help motivate members to make the change!

Recently the NCRPA board endorsed a position statement supporting the promotion of healthy foods as part of youth sports in the communities. The statement encourages organizations to do everything possible to provide access to healthy foods and beverages in the youth sports and athletics experience. Such commitment and practice provides a consistent message that a healthy diet is pivotal for good health and optimal athletic performance.

Let’s come together during the month of September to provide necessary steps to battle and increase awareness of childhood obesity across North Carolina. For more information on healthy concessions or physical activity programs then please visit the NCRPA Wellness Initiative homepage.

If you have ideas or suggestions of promoting National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, then please share by submitting or emailing us on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net



Tags:  Awareness  Healthy Living  Youth Lives Matter 

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The Impact of Social Media

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, April 20, 2015

Happy Monday,

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 NCRPA Marketing Summit in Durham, NC. The information shared during the sessions was extremely valuable. As digital media continues to grow it is being embraced and utilized by an assortment of agencies. The questions is; how can we use digital media to promote wellness?

Why is this relevant for wellness? Social media is one of the strongest, (not to mention free, mostly), tools that your parks department can use to their advantage. Social media is one of the primary modes of communication to broadcast breaking and updated news and information. Still not convinced? According to the Pew Research Center, as of September 2014: 71% of online adults use Facebook, 23% of online adults use Twitter, 26% of online adults use Instagram and 28% of online adults use Pinterest, and 28% of adults use LinkedIn.

What can you do with those social media outlets? Facebook allows us to post visually engaging content. You can promote your department’s programs and events by posting pictures and stories. The key is to find a story to tell to create an emotional response. This could be sharing a story of one of your staff members or families in the community. Twitter is widely used by journalist, companies and individuals. It is easy to build a network of users by creating hashtags and geotags. It is also great for instant and constant news, both to share and receive. Instagram can be used to create photo and video content, check out the department of the interiors page for some inspiration ( Create an engaging and creative competition for users to post pictures helping promote your department. Lastly, Pinterest is good to organize topics, such as arts, sports and special events. Check out how Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources is using Pintrest (

The high percentage of online users tells us that we should communicate to our communities more through social media. Your department can have impact by strategically sharing useful information, whether that be regarding healthy eating or physical activity ideas. Spark ideas by sharing pictures, videos and stories of health related topics. According to the Social Media Examiner, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide. As well as adding a photo to your tweet, can boost your retweets by 35%. These statistics indicate that by posting visual content related to health and wellness can help increase overall engagement on your social media pages!

We can inspire our communities through the use of the internet by sharing health related information and providing tools to empower change in their daily lives. If you have any ideas on using social media as a positive reinforcement, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Awareness  Health  Social Media  Wellness 

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February is American Heart Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 2, 2015

The past couple blogs have focused on programs that can be started in your department, topics including: healthy eating, employee wellness ideas, and community program proposals. However, I feel that it is also our duty, as parks and recreation professionals, to provide educational information to our community regarding topics on health and wellness.

If you weren’t already aware February is American Heart Month and according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Sadly, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease, which can be caused by a stroke, stress, unhealthy eating habits, and high blood pressure.

So now the good news! Heart disease can be prevented when people start making healthier choices and managing their health conditions. During the month of February, we can help our communities, departments, and families to learn how to fight heart disease.

Here are some ideas:

·         Encourage your department to share healthy recipes and exercise tips. Provide health information to the community in any updates or monthly newsletters.

·         Use social media to your advantage, such as Facebook or Twitter. Send a tweet about American Heart Month, and follow American Heart Association on Twitter to receive daily news and updates:

·         Motivate your department to make physical activity a part of their work day. Introduce ideas such as a morning yoga session, walking during a break, or a run group after work. The objective is to create a common goal with your peers and coworkers!

·         Reach out to local health professionals to create opportunities to inform your community on ways to prevent heart disease. You can even host a community event where families learn more about healthy eating and physical activity.

Remember, half the battle is getting the right information out to the community! I challenge all of you to take the lead and raise awareness for American Heart Month in support of healthier communities and healthier lives. For more information please visit:

If you have any ideas for promoting American Heart Month within your community and department, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  American Heart Association  American Heart Month  awareness  Health  Wellness 

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