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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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Parks for Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recent NRPA “Park Pulse” 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! This wellness blog will detail some of the findings, and share some ways for your department to get involved.

In the past few years, the idea of Park Prescriptions has been increasingly growing. Doctors are essentially prescribing their patients to go outside and get active, something that often involves using local park systems.  (to find out more about the Park Prescription model, please check out this website!) The findings of the survey indicate that the general public agrees with and is willing to accept this model.

Below, I’ve included some of the key findings from the Park Pulse survey, courtesy of NRPA:

  • Over 3 in 5 Americans (63 percent) would take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three Americans say they would work out at a local gym or rec center

  • Baby boomers are more likely than Gen Xers or millennials to take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three parents would ride a bicycle at a local park, trail or around the neighborhood versus one in four adults without a child in the home saying they would do the same

So how can your department tap into this movement? Try approaching your local physicians with some of the results of the survey! It does not have to be a full-blown park prescription program, but rather letting the medical professional that your facilities would be a great resource for their patients to use to exercise.

If your department is interested in establishing a partnership with medical professionals, here are a few tips to help:

  • Compile materials to distribute to medical professionals.

  • Get creative when looking for potential medical provider partners

    • Use the internet, phonebook, and word-of-mouth when finding medical providers to partner with.

    • University medical programs, local hospitals, and private practices can be potential partner

It is great to know that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Through your programs and facilities, our field can make a big difference, and it’s great to know that others are realizing it too.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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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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Thinking About Employee Wellness

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Until next time,


Tags:  health and wellness  NCRPA wellness  wellness 

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Food Security For All

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 7, 2016

Happy November! Believe it or not, we are just over two weeks away from Thanksgiving. With the holiday season upon us, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some ways your department can help combat against North Carolina’s food insecurity issue. This wellness blog will give your department some ideas on how to help provide healthy food access to everyone in your community.

According to the North Carolina Association of Feeding America Food Banks, one out of four children in North Carolina are food insecure. This is an alarming statistic and ranks North Carolina as one of the highest percentages in the nation. The same source states that “Approximately 160,000 different people in NC receive emergency food assistance in any given week.”

With food insecurity being such an immense problem in North Carolina, a department sponsored food drive could help provide your local food banks with supplies to distribute out to those who need them the most.

One idea for food drive collection is to encourage program participants to bring nonperishable food items to your programs. If you are running any athletic leagues, consider holding a food donation day. Set collection bins near the entrance of your facility, and encourage attendees to bring a food item upon entry. Make sure you utilize your program instructors, coaches, and staff to advertise this donation day.

There are a lot of great resources out there to help in planning a food drive. The North Carolina 4-H Youth Development office put together a great toolkit with a compilation of resources and appropriate steps to take when developing a food drive.

Another idea to help provide food relief to members of your community is to hold a department volunteer day. Although programs are in full swing, volunteering for a good cause can be very rewarding and a great way to build chemistry among your staff. Find a local food pantry or soup kitchen, and reach out to set up a department volunteer trip.

The NCRPA Wellness Toolkit provides some additional ideas on how to offer accessible healthy food to your community. To learn how to provide healthy cooking and nutrition classes for your department, click this link.  Another great resource on the wellness toolkit is our community garden page. Community gardens can be a great way to provide accessible, healthy food for all.

The holiday season is a perfect time to begin initiatives to help combat against food insecurity in North Carolina. Hopefully, the resources provided in this blog can help you start a new food security program, or improve upon an existing one.

Until next time,

Diquan Edmonds

Tags:  Health and Wellness  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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September is Better Breakfast Month!

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

September 6th, 2016 


Happy September!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags:  Health and Wellness  ncrpa wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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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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Get Motivated With These Fitness Apps

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

Happy Monday,


I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday and has fully recovered from the “turkey coma!” It is hard to believe we only have one day left in November! As the days get a bit colder and shorter, it can be hard to find motivation to stay active and healthy, especially during the holidays. Today’s blog focuses on creating incentives to stay active and eating healthy through the use of free mobile iOS and Android apps that tracks not only your progress, but creates a gratifying and innovative experience for you to remain fit.


First, Charity Miles is a great fitness app to inspire you to bike, walk or run some extra miles. With every mile you bike, walk, or run, you can earn money for a variety of charities! Charity Miles donates 10 cents for every mile biked, and 25 cents for every mile walked or run. Some charities include: Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warrior Project, RED, Autism Speaks, Feeding America, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and more. Available on iOS and Android.


No gym, no excuse! Sworkit is a fitness app that brings you through 5-60 plus minute strength, yoga, pilates and stretching workouts that require limited to no equipment. This workout app offers beginner, immediate and advanced workouts to match your workout style. Available on iOS and Android.


MyFitnessPal combines both healthy eating and physical activity, making sure you stay on top of your entire input and output of calories. During the day you are able to track calories in the food diary by simply adding your meals and the quantity. You can also track your fitness by logging the physical activities you do, including cardio, weight lifting or even daily routines such as gardening or physical labor. Available on iOS and Android.


Additionally, we know that holiday traveling is popular and you won’t always have the option to prepare your own healthy meals. HealthyOut finds healthy restaurant dishes across the country. This app can find restaurants in over 500 cities in the U.S! You can easily search by calories & points, nutrition tags like heart healthy and paleo, cuisines and much more. Available on iOS and Android.


Remember, part of living a healthy lifestyle involves exploring ways to be inspired and motivated! There are an endless amount of free options and opportunities to stay active and conscious of your decisions! NCRPA and I challenge you to find a way to incorporate these mobile apps among your department and community. Share healthy apps, success stories and ideas through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Most important, don’t think of staying healthy as a burden but an enjoyable learning experience that will improve the overall health of our communities and state.


If you have any programing ideas or ways to incorporate mobile device apps within your department and community please email us or submit them on the wellness site here (,         



Tags:  Android  Fitness Apps  Health and Wellness  Holidays  IOS 

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Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

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

Happy Monday,

Thanksgiving is this week, and we all know that means good food and even better company! Gatherings are becoming more popular, whether if that’s celebrating with family or work. The endless amount of treats and desserts can challenge your commitment to healthy eating, but it can be managed! In this week’s wellness blog, I will provide some tricks to reduce calorie consumption without sacrificing all the treats. Feel free to share these ideas as you plan holiday gatherings and celebrations by using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

How can you help make a holiday party healthier? WebMD: Food and Recipes has 10 Healthy Holiday Party Tips to get you started! One easy step is using smaller plates and cups, which will result in smaller portions among the guest. Smaller plates will lend a hand in guest’s subconsciously reducing the amount of food intake during the meal. While smaller cups will downsize the portions or adult beverages and surgery drinks. Be sure to offer plenty of water for people to have a healthy and calorie-free drink option. Club soda is also a good and low in sugar solution to mix with alcoholic beverages. Additionally, creating a food-free space will minimize the unconscious snacking throughout the party. According to Eating Well starting the meal with soup or salad will help the guest fill up on something light and have less room for starchy and heavier foods. There are some easy and cheap options to encourage healthy habits during the party that can be easily implemented among work and family gatherings. Need a health Thanksgiving dessert recipe? Eating Well website has Healthy Thanksgiving Cookies recipes that can be enjoyed by your guest or coworkers!

If you don’t have a “healthy holiday recipe:” try making simple substitutions to your favorite recipes, which can help to reduce calories, fat and sugar. There are smart ingredient substitutions when baking your favorite holiday meals for parties and gatherings. First, instead of using butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no sugar added applesauce, a healthier option then using high-in-fat butter. Another easy idea is to use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole or heavy cream in recipes. Additionally, try using half white and half whole-wheat flour instead of only white flour. Lastly, replace chocolate chips or candies with dried fruit, such as cranberries or cherries to achieve the sweet taste in your baked goods. More healthy tricks and replacements can be found on the American Heart Association website.

The Wellness Initiative wants to add more ideas among the Healthy Policy Ideas, so if you have any healthy eating party ideas or tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:(,



Tags:  Health and Wellness  Live Healthy  NCRPA 

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