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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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2017: Year in Review

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 18, 2017
Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017

It was a great pleasure seeing so many of our at the 2017 Carolina’s Joint Conference last week! Now that conference is over and 2017 is almost completed, this blog will look back at some of my favorite NCRPA wellness initiative content from 2017.


  •  In November, the NCRPA wellness blog covered the results from a recent NRPA Park Pulse survey. The survey found that three in five Americans would take up walking or jogging through local parks and trails if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor! Personally, I think that it is great that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Click this link to read the blog post!
  • The 10-minute Walk campaign is the start of a multi-year partnership between cities and mayors across America to increase access to parks. According to NRPA, “Beginning in 2018, the campaign partners will be working with cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.” Check out this link to read more!
  •  In May,  the wellness initiative interviewed Greg Walker, Director of Fletcher Parks and Recreation about their numerous community partners in wellness. Click this link to read the interview. If your department has any cool wellness partnerships, I’d love to know about it. Email me at to share!
  •  Also in 2017, the NCRPA Team was fortunate enough to receive grant funding for stand up desks! Sitting for long periods of time is commonly known to be bad for overall health. According to the Washington Post, risks of sitting for prolonged periods include heart disease, sore shoulders and back, and poor circulation in legs. This can cause problems for those of us with jobs that require us to sit down. Click this link to learn more about stand up desks!
  •  Healthy Out-of-School Time, or HOST standards, were created by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation , and give out of school time providers a great resource to offer healthy snacks and physical activity to children. Click this link to learn more about HOST Standards and how your department can adopt some of them.

I hope that you have enjoyed all of the exciting health and wellness content that the NCRPA Wellness Initiative has offered this year! With the holiday season approaching, the weekly wellness bulletin is taking a brief hiatus and will return in January along with new content and some big news! Have a restful and enjoyable new year!

Until next time,


Tags:  health  healthy living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Holiday Family Health and Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 27, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

With the holiday season upon us, now is the perfect time for you and your department to promote family friendly health and wellness in your community. Children are out of school for winter break and their parents/guardians likely having a few days off. This creates a great opportunity for family health and wellness! This wellness blog will give you a few easy ideas to promote family health and wellness in your lives as well as your community.

According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.” Participating in health activities as a family is a great way to promote health and wellness to children, and may help create long-lasting habits in a child’s life.

Have you heard of the #OptOutside movement? Each year, REI (and a few other retail stores) close for Black Friday, and encourage the public to get outside  and active. This movement uses the social media hashtag #OptOutside and encourages people to post pictures of their outdoor experience. Although your department will likely not start a national campaign, encouraging families to get outside during their vacation time can be an easy and effective way to promote health and wellness.

First, select a park, trail, or activity that is family friendly in your community. Make sure that your location is appropriate for people of all ages. Once your ideal family-friendly location is selected, start spreading the word to your community by using social media, flyers, and other ways of communication. Be sure to emphasize that this is a great way to spend quality family time together during the holidays. Sometimes, it just takes a little push to get people outside and active! Create a local hashtag for family’s to use to share their experience on social media!

Additionally, your department may be holding seasonal events to celebrate this time of year. Whether you are holding a holiday themed 5k, winter wonderland, New Years celebration, parade, or other special event, there are some easy ways to encourage family health and wellness. Set up a table at the event that includes family friendly and healthy holiday recipes.

Below, are a few additional ways to promote family health and wellness in your community this holiday season:

  • Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write holiday related clues for 10 to 15 objects in your park or facility and print out a few copies of the objects. Families can then complete the scavenger hunt by taking photos of the objects. Once the hunt is completed, a small prize can be given out.

  • Family Fun Night: Family fun nights are a great way to get the whole family engaged. When planning a family fun night, choose games that are appropriate for the whole family. Simple games like capture the flag and obstacle courses come to my mind. Most importantly, provide a safe space and opportunity for active family fun.  A past wellness blog post discussed family fun nights in depth.

  • Family Cooking Courses: Family cooking courses can be used to introduce fun, easy and healthy recipes that are appropriate for the whole family. There are a lot of good resources online for finding family-friendly healthy recipes. Try Food Network or All Recipes for help.

  • Family Walking Group: Walking groups are a different way to get families active. Start a walking group geared towards families! Children, teenagers, and parents can connect with each other while walking in safe and fun locations. The NCRPA Wellness Webinars have covered running and walking groups in the past. Check out recordings of these webinars for extra help!

I hope that this blog post has given you some ways to promote family health and wellness in your community! If your department has a great family wellness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!

Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Family Time  Health  NCRPA Wellness 

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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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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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Every Kid Healthy Week

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, April 11, 2016

Happy Monday,

I hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather and taking some time to be active and get outside! My blog today is dedicated to children’s health and wellness. For those who do not know, the last full week of April 25th – 29th, is “Every Kid Healthy Week.” Every Kid Healthy Week is an annual observance created to celebrate school health and wellness achievements and recognized on the calendar of National Health Observances. This special event highlights great efforts of both school and community partners who are improving the health and wellness of children, and the link between nutrition, physical activity and healthy education. The Action for Healthy Kids site has plenty of resources and programs to refer to for help and ideas. The site provides ideas for games, volunteering, school grants for heathy kids and understanding local wellness policies!

NCRPA wants to hear from your department! If you have any health awareness programs dedicated to positive youth development, please send us the information for us to share during the last week of April! Help spark ideas and motivate other departments to take part in the Every Kid Healthy Week observance.

This Saturday, April 16th, is the NC Recre8 5k at 10 locations across North Carolina. NCRPA is challenging your department to get actively involved and find a location near you to participate! If you have yet to register, refer to our 5k homepage to find a race: If you are waiting to see if the weather is shining (which it will!), then you can register on race day at any of the locations listed. Create a running team within your department and make it a day to remember. Click the following link for more information and select a race location by you: Don’t forget to use the code LGFCU and save $5 dollars on your registration!  

The next Wellness Webinar will be Tuesday, April 26 at 1:00pm. Larry Cassella, Employee Wellness Coordinator for Town of Cary, will be hosting. The topic will focus on wellness programs, and how evaluating and understanding how to define ‘value’ is critical in fully defending worksite health promotion efforts. Click the following link to register for the webinar:

If you have any ideas or suggestions regarding department’s participating in Every Kid Healthy Week, then please email us or submit your ideas on the wellness site here: (,



Tags:  action for healthy kids  Every Kid Healthy Week  health  ncparkrun  wellness 

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National Public Health Week

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Tuesday,

Another month is upon us and in honor of the first day of April, my blog is dedicated to National Public Health Week, April 4-10. Every year during the first week of April, the American Public Health Association (APHA) brings together communities across the United States for a common mission. APHA’s goal is to recognize the contributions of public health and to highlight issues that are important to improving our nation. APHA focuses on a variety of topics, such as: building a safe nation, establishing healthy communities, implementing youth education, providing quality health care, and strengthening public health infrastructure.

One of APHA’s topics includes being able to give everyone a choice of healthy food within your community. According to the APHA, there is a direct link between poor nutrition and many of the leading causes of death in American, such as heart disease, some cancers, stroke and diabetes. Additionally, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows most U.S. youth don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables or whole grains, with many exceeding the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium and sugar.

So what can we do? During National Public Health Week and beyond, NCRPA challenges your department to start making changes in your community for the better. Inform your community on how kids and adults can have access to healthier and cleaner food. Listed are three ideas your department can engage in. First, implement a community garden. Refer to NCRPA’s Community Gardens page for ideas on creating and establishing a successful garden within your community. Another idea is to encourage your community to use local produce! Purchasing local food general means that you are receiving a fresher product, as well as supporting your community’s economy. Check-out NCRPA’s Local Produce page for more information. Lastly, provide healthy vending policies in your park and recreation facilities year-round. NCRPA’s Vending page discusses how to develop healthy food guidelines, and locating a vendor that is willing to provide healthier options. There are plenty of vending companies that service North Carolina that include healthy options, some are: Grow Healthy Vending, Smart Fuel/Smart Choice and Be Better Vending. For more ideas, visit NPHW’s Healthy Foods page.

NCRPA is challenging your department to become involved in National Public Health Week in one way or another. Please email us or submit your ideas on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  APHA  Health  NPHW  Wellness 

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National Nutrition Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Monday,

Tomorrow is the beginning of March, which means one step closer to spring and Daylight Savings time (Sunday, March 13th, for those who forget to adjust their clocks…like me every year). Along with the extra daylight and warmer weather, March is also known as National Nutrition Month!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has ways to get involved that help to increase awareness of making informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits. The following information will hopefully inspire a year-round dedication to healthy habits and an improved lifestyle. The goal is to create opportunities to teach your communities, departments and families’ easy ways they can start to make improvements to their nutrition and ultimately lead a healthier way of life.

Here are some ideas:

-Use social media to send out daily recipes or exercise ideas to your community. Follow National Nutrition Month on the Academy’s social media channels, Facebook &Twitter, to gather more ideas and information.  Use #NNM hashtag if you send information via Twitter or Facebook.

- Contact your local public library and schedule a story time or nutrition program. Provide information on Eat Right nutrition trips for adults and children. Another idea is to organize a National Nutrition Month presentation at your local park or even senior center.

- Encourage your department to share healthy recipes and exercise tips through the use of your departments e-news or printed monthly newsletters. Reach out to local health professionals to create other opportunities to inform your community on ways to develop sound eating and physical activity habits.

-Lastly, remember leading a healthy life extends past healthy eating habits. Motivate your department in making an effort to make physical activity a part of their daily routine. Some ideas include morning yoga, run groups, or daily walks, which will reduce the chance of chronic illnesses and increase energy levels throughout the day.  

I challenge all of you to take the lead and raise awareness for National Nutrition Month. Taking the proper steps to lead a healthier life can have positive results, such as improving your mood, reducing stress, and increasing endurance and stamina. For more information on National Nutrition Month, click here.

Our March Wellness Webinar will be hosted tomorrow at 1:00pm by Jennie Sumrell, Director of Education at PlayCore. She will be discussing ways to attract more children and families to local community trails and parks. The webinar is 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. To register please click the link:

NC Recre8’s statewide 5k is excited to announce registration is now live! The race will take place on Saturday, April 16, at various locations across North Carolina. Click the following link for more information and to check if there are any race locations by you:

If you would like to share your ideas and suggestions regarding National Nutrition Month, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics  Health  National Nutrition Month 

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Reasons to run a 5k Race!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy Monday,

I hope everyone is back into the swing of things and ready to conquer a New Year! The NCRPA team is gearing up for some exciting events this year, including the first ever statewide 5k race happening April 16, 2016, across the state of North Carolina. So far fourteen recreation and parks departments have registered to be a part of this exciting event.

If you are interested in being a host, there is still time for your department to register! Here are some reasons listed by why promoting a 5k race in your community is beneficial! For participants, finding training time is precious, especially when it comes to training for a half-marathon or marathon. Participants can work up to a 5k race from scratch, and train for it even just on three days a week. Your department can provide run groups to create a social and encouraging environment for participants to train in! The 5k race day is also fairly easy for participants. They will arrive about 20-30 minutes prior to the race with a quick warm-up and the race will take about 40 minutes maximum to complete. It is also a great family experience, where children and adults can both participate and head home feeling accomplished together. Additionally, a 5k race is great motivation for health improvement. It will help participants to elevate their overall max VO2, which is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, as well as improve running form and efficiency and encourage more regular training runs or fun runs. For more reasons why a 5k race is great for your community, then read Active 6 reasons to run a 5k race article!

Following the theme of 5k races, Greg Walker, Fletcher Parks and Recreation, and Mark Scott, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Asheville, will be hosting our first Wellness Webinar of the year tomorrow, January 12th, at 1:00pm. The webinar will focus on organizing a 5k run/walk in your own community, as well as discussing benefits of partnering with a corporate partner for a race.  To register please click the following link:

If you have never organized a 5k race in your community, then participating in the 5k Webinar will be extremely useful information! For more information on how to get your department involved in our NC Recre8 5k race, visit the race page:, or contact myself ( ) or matt (

If you have any information and advice on 5k races then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net



Tags:  5k Run/Walk  Health  NC Recre8 5k race  Wellness 

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Reach Your Health Goals in 2016

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe New Year! This year holds a lot of exciting events for the Wellness Initiative and we cannot wait for all of you to be part of it. With the New Year goals set to live a healthier and active lifestyle, it is important to find inspiration to keep strong and confident throughout the year.

First, set reasonable goals. Do not overdo it during the first month. Make sure your exercise routine and eating habits are balanced and within your own control. You do want healthy eating and exercise to become a chore, but something that you truly enjoy doing. Secondly, make sure you reward yourself. Healthy eating requires portion control, so allow yourself to eat the occasional favorite dessert or meal. Third, keep track of your progress with a calendar or journal! Setting dates will help you reach your goals, but make sure it is done in a healthy and realistic manner. Lastly, invite others to join your healthy lifestyle. Friends, family and co-workers can serve as a great support system which helps maintain your motivation, as well as theirs! Motivate others by sharing healthy tips, advice and suggestions through the use of social media, such as: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Remember, the next Wellness Webinar will be hosted by Greg Walker of Fletcher Parks and Recreation, and Mark Scott, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Asheville. The webinar will focus on organizing a 5k run/walk in your own community. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, January 12th at 1:00pm. To register please click the link:


This coming April 2016, NCRPA is partnering with departments statewide to host the first ever statewide Recre8 5k! If you have never organized a 5k race in your community, then participating in the 5k Webinar will be extremely useful information! For more information on how to get your department involved in the Recre8 5k race, visit the race page:, or contact myself ( ) or matt (


I challenge all of you during the first month of the year to engage yourself in healthy eating practices and to exercise regularly. If you have any healthy eating ideas or exercise tips to share feel free to email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net


Happy New Year!


Tags:  Health  Healthy Eating  Inspiration  Motivation  Smart Living  Wellness 

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Hydration is Key

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy 4th of July!


As we head into the hot summer months, it is important to continue to share information on how to stay healthy, hydrated and exercise safely in the heat! Drinking plenty of water is critical no matter if you are sitting in the sun, playing sports or traveling. 

As we all know water is vital for the body to function correctly, especially for the heart! According to the American Heart Association, the body well hydrated helps the heart pump blood through the vessels to all the muscles. Additionally, it also reduces the amount of work your heart has to do throughout the day. North Carolina summers can bring extreme hot temperatures, and no matter the age, dehydration can lead to problems ranging from headaches, swollen feet, low energy and heat stroke.

Because a lot of our park agencies host summer youth programs, it is essential that information is always shared of the importance of staying hydrated, and how during the long summer days! Water is the best substance to stay hydrated compared with other liquids. Even sport drinks can be helpful because they contain electrolytes which help people doing high intensity exercises in the hot weather. Sugary drinks can be hard on the stomach, especially if you have reached dehydration. The key is to drink water throughout the day, especially before, during and after activities.

So what are some tips to keep kids and adults hydrated in your youth summer programs? The YMCA shared some helpful tips to be shared among the North Carolina communities.

  • Freeze water bottles overnight. This will ensure the preparation of cold water for the next day instead of having the children drink warm water that has been sitting out in the sun.
  • If children want more than just water, then try adding some fresh limes or lemons in the water for taste. Adding flavor will hopefully motivate the children to keep drinking water.
  • Try to avoid caffeinated drinks which tend to lead to dehydration. Leaving those at home will help children drink water when they are thirsty rather than reaching for a coke.

Continue to share information among your community by using social media! Posting facts about staying hydrated on Facebook and Twitter will only raise awareness on staying healthy during the hot summer days. If you have any ideas on staying hydrated or sharing tips regarding youth summer programs, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:




Tags:  Health  Hydration  Summer  Wellness  Youth Programs 

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July is Park & Recreation Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, June 29, 2015

July is only a couple days away!  This year along with the National Recreation and Park Association we will be celebrating 30 years of Park and Recreation Month. It is a great time to recognize and share that parks were created to serve the people, giving them a place to exercise, come together, enjoy nature and lead a healthier life.

The National Recreation and Park Association  is bringing the 80’s back by challenging the nation to rock Park and Recreation Month 80’s-style.  Some ideas to get your department involved in the July contest is to host an aerobics/dance party, a pick-up basketball game 80’s style (high knee socks), roller skating party, or a break dance contest during a summer camp program! For more information and to participate in the NRPA challenge then check out the NRPA Recreating Like It’s 1985 page.

Connecting the NRPA 80’s challenge, NCRPA wants your department to take the lead! It is the last month for the Me in My Park challenge. The Me in My Park challenge, ending August 1st, 2015, is asking your department, individuals and communities to post pictures to social media while at their community park using hashtag #MeinMyPark. We will be selecting the best pictures that represents a creative and engaging way of leading a healthy life while using park systems. To spice it up, during the month of July focus on the 80’s theme in the park! Whether that is an 80’s theme Zumba, yoga, Pilates, or workout class, or pick-up sports in 80’s gear, the ideas are endless! Get creative and inspire others to live up to the challenge.

Let’s become part of the NRPA challenge and add our own NCRPA twist to it! If you have any ideas about the #MeinMyPark Challenge with 1980’s theme, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  #MeinMyPark  Health  July  National Recreation and Park Association  Park and Recreation Month 80's Style  Wellness 

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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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There’s an App For That

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, March 30, 2015

Last Wednesday, March 25th, the NCRPA Wellness Initiative had the honor to have Ellis Hamburger, Communications team at Snapchat, Inc. host an incredibly informative Wellness Webinar. His webinar focused on the importance of physical activity for our overall health. He opened up his discussion by stating that even moving 30 minutes per day can decrease an overweight person’s chance of getting Type 2 Diabetes by 50 percent. For children, it is about 60 minutes per day of physical movement. Ellis discussed smartphone apps that provide us with the tools and some inspiration to remind us to be more active and health aware.

One of the first apps he suggested, Human, is an activity and calorie tracker. This app inspires you to move 30 minutes or more every day, whether if that’s walking, running, biking or any sort of indoor activity. You can map your runs, walks and activity using GPS and even compete with co-workers, family members or friends.

7 Minute Workout Challenge, is an exercise app that uses a research-backed workout program. Researchers have selected 12 exercises that are performed for 30 seconds with 10 second rest intervals. Exercises are simple to perform, and require little to no equipment. The app also tracks your progress, and results in higher daily metabolism and is equivalent of working out for over an hour. Exercises can include push-ups, wall sits, planks, jumping jacks or lunges, which all can be done outdoors or indoors.

Health for the IPhone and Google Fit for Androids, is an app that tracks your daily activity just by carrying your phone, such as walking, running, and cycling activity. As of now the US adult average amount of steps per-day is 5900 steps, where we should be aiming for at least 10,000 steps per-day. This app will allow you to set goals based on either duration or steps and you are able to see progress throughout the day.

To learn more about other apps that inspire and support a healthier, more activity lifestyle please click the following link to listen to Ellis’s webinar:

Using apps to support making a lifestyle change can provide support and motivation to kick off a healthier you! But it’s not just using an app its making a conscious effort to be more active, Ellis makes great points in the webinar about parking further from the door, getting off one bus stop earlier, or going for a quick walk during a lunch break. We encourage you to share this information and other inspirational ideas with your community through newsletters, or daily health-fact tweets through twitter. Remember, the more creative you are the more excited and involved your community will become. 

One step more is one step closer to leading a healthier life. If you have any apps you would like to share, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (, 


Tags:  Fitness Apps  Health  Smartphones  Tips  Wellness 

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"Run" Your Community

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

Good Morning,

Last Wednesday NCRPA was fortunate enough to have Scott Knox, from Morrisville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, provide us with information regarding run groups and training for a 5K race. Scott emphasized that greenway trails can be perfect for recreational and wellness use, but many are not aware of their existence, or their ease of access. Run/Walk groups are a perfect way to educate communities on their park’s system, as well as the importance of health and wellness. Scott went over key points, such as getting started, who to reach out to in your community, and other helpful information of organization run groups and 5K training.

The first goal is to establish a base of interest. Social media, flyers throughout the community, and reaching out to people who would be interested in participating is a perfect place to start. The idea is to cater to families and individuals to contribute to the diversity of the running group, which will allow to meet the needs of all types of runners! The next step is to each out to an organization or special interest group that have similar interests or objectives as what you have set for the group. The groups can consist of healthy food vendors, sport equipment stores, or other sponsor groups. It will be easier to promote the run group if your department has external organizations reaching out to the community as well.

Now, where do we start? The key is to pick a time and place that will best suit your participants. Once again, it is important to promote the run group to all sorts of experienced runners. The next step is to provide the participants with something to follow, such as a 5K training program guide giving them a goal to achieve. Finding a way to instill motivation and inspiration among participants is critical for the success of a run group program!

Scott was extremely helpful with all the fruitful information that he provided. If you want to learn more about run groups, you can view a video of Scotts Webinar here: 

Please email or submit any run group or training for a 5k information that you may have so we can add it to our wellness toolkit! (,



Tags:  5K Training  Community  Family  Health  Parks  Programs  Run Groups  Trails  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Be Smart, Eat Smart!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, February 23, 2015

Good Afternoon,  

There are multiple reasons why people may have unhealthy diets. Some reasons can include: lack of proper nutrition information, difficulties accessing affordable healthy foods, or lack of desire to change their eating habits because of various factors. While it is impossible for parks and recreation agencies to solve all barriers to healthy eating, there are still ways to promote healthy eating in your department and community. Our Wellness Initiative webpage provides information to help your department get a jumpstart on creating a healthier community when it comes to healthy eating and cooking.

Specifically, our tool kit page on Healthy Cooking and Nutrition Programs can guide your department in establishing nutrition programs for the community. The first step is to have nutrition training for your staff, which will increase awareness and knowledge of nutrition within your department. You can reach out to the local cooperative extension,  county health department, or nutritionist from a local college to come and lead a staff training on nutrition. The next step is to build a network and create more contacts in your community, one idea is to reach out to local farmers to come and talk about the development of produce. Another option is to contact your local food bank to start a cooking program for food-insecure families. There could be other local vendors who are willing to help endorse healthy eating and nutrition programs as well. Lastly, one idea to expand awareness in your community is to a host a parks and recreation healthy cook-off. Pick a local or annual event to bring in community members, local farmers, chefs and vendors to share information, cooking-tips, and recipes. Refer to our Using Local Produce in Agency Programs webpage for more information on local produce in North Carolina. 

Remember, knowledge is power! Healthy eating habits and information is continuously evolving and improving, it is important to share current information in your community. As always, be sure to share your nutrition or healthy cooking class ideas with us so we can add it to our wellness toolkit! (,


Tags:  Health  Healthy Lifestyle  Local Vendors  Nutrition Programs  Wellness bulletin 

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