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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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Conference Wellness Tips

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 11, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

In honor of our conference, this week’s wellness blog focuses on how to stay healthy when you are away from home.  These five conference wellness tips will allow you make the most out of your time in Greensboro!


1. Utilize your hotel’s fitness room for a quick workout! You would be surprised at how many health benefits just 30 minutes on a treadmill can burn. Both of our conference hotel locations offer fitness rooms for you to conquer this. Waking up a little earlier to walk on the treadmill in the morning will help you get your day started off the right way.


2. Make sure to get a full night's sleep! This will give you more energy throughout the day. Determine what time you need to wake up to make the most out of conference, and plan accordingly the night before. It is recommended by doctors that the average adult needs 7.5-8 hours of sleep every night.


3. Make healthy food choices! Try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables everyday while at conference. If you have any fruits and vegetables at home, bring them along! They will serve as easy snacks to save money and incorporate some freshness into your hotel diet. Also, most restaurants offer menu guides on the healthy food options they offer. Use these to make healthy choices when eating out.


4. Take a stretch break in between conference sessions. Use this time to stretch those muscles and walk around. Stretching is important to do throughout the day, and it gets the blood flowing throughout your body. For some more information on the health benefits of stretching, and some tips to maximize your stretching, please check out this article.

Get out and explore some of the great parks and facilities that Greensboro has to offer! If you have some extra time in between your busy conference schedule, check out some of the great facilities and parks in Greensboro. For a full list of Greensboro Parks and Recreation facilities and parks, check out this link.

At this year’s conference, we have a ton of awesome wellness-related sessions! Attend the sessions marked with Bitmoji Diquan to learn how to incorporate health and wellness programs, policies, and infrastructure in your department.

I hope these tips help you make healthy choices while at conference. Looking forward to spending time with all of our conference attendees over the next few days!

Until next time,



Tags:  carolinas joint conference  healthy living  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 20, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is almost here! With the holiday season upon us, it can be hard to keep up with normal healthy routines. This wellness blog will give you some tips to have a healthy holiday.


It would not be Thanksgiving without the delicious food! The big event of the day for many American families is gathering around the table and sharing an indulgent meal. While this one day of delicious food will likely be a part of your traditions forever, there are a few simple ways to make the day a bit healthier that will leave you feeling better at the end of the day.


1. Eat your vegetables:  Roasted vegetables can be a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving side dish! Instead of filling up on less healthy options, eat extra roasted vegetables instead. Not only will eating extra vegetables help you avoid less healthy options, but they can be a great source of nutrients.

2. Portion control is key: On Thanksgiving Day when all of the food looks so delicious, I sometimes find myself eating way more than I probably should. This results in me feeling terrible after the meal. To avoid this feeling, make sure you use appropriate portion control! This article has some easy guidelines to follow to make sure your feast is appropriately sized.  

3. Don’t skip meals: I must admit that in the past, Thanksgiving dinner was my only meal of the day. Although you may think that skipping breakfast will “leave more space” for dinner, it is an unhealthy game to play. Instead eat a light, healthy breakfast to start your day. Skipping breakfast (and meals in general) can lead to overeating later in the day.

4. Incorporate exercise into your day: If the weather is nice, Thanksgiving can be a great day to go for a relaxing walk outside. Gather your friends and family and make it a new tradition! Additionally on Black Friday, “#OptOutside”, get active and find time to explore one of your local parks.

5. Help clean-up after the meal: Although this tip is not the most fun, doing normal household chores can actually be a great way to burn calories! So between the food, family, and football, help clean up!


If your department is having a Thanksgiving celebration, try adopting some of these practices. You can still promote wellness in the workplace, while enjoying all that Thanksgiving has to offer. I hope you all have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  thanksgiving  Wellness 

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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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November is American Diabetes Month

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I can’t believe that it is already November! If you did not know, November is American Diabetes Month, as designated by the American Diabetes Association. This wellness blog will give some brief background of diabetes and the links to physical activity and healthy nutrition, and give your department a few ideas to implement programming to help combat against it.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease”. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.”

The other type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic “More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.” There is also evidence that type 2 diabetes

It may be shocking, but one in 11 Americans are living with diabetes.While the risk factors and cause of type 1 diabetes are not conclusive, there are a number of associations between type 2 diabetes and inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and high blood pressure. This is where your department programming can come into play.

Some departments offer healthy cooking and nutrition courses based on the special needs of different ailments. If your department has the capacity to offer cooking courses, try offering a diabetes nutrition course! This could be a multi-week course, or even a one time only special program. Check out this webpage for some quick meals for people with diabetes. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association offers a cookbook with easy meals, grocery lists, and nutritional information.

For both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, physical activity is extremely important. Exercises courses geared towards individuals living with diabetes could be an option! As with offering exercise programs for anyone, there are a few precautions to take. First, exercise and physical activity can lower blood sugar in individuals with diabetes. If your department is offering exercise, follow the guidelines detailed at this link.

Additionally, go over these 11 injury free exercise tips from the American Diabetes Association to help ensure that your participants are being safe.

Lastly, check out this page to see how your department can get involved in American Diabetes Month.

Until next time,

Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Last Minute Halloween Safety Tips!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 30, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Halloween is tomorrow! A big part of wellness is promoting safety in our communities. This wellness blog will give your department some quick tips and best practices to promote in advance to the big day tomorrow.

According to, “On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” Dark clothing, coupled with dark road conditions and heavy foot traffic on the streets can make trick-or-treating a dangerous affair.

While trick-or-treating in your community may not be happening in park and recreation facilities, your department can still help spread tips and best practices to help ensure safety. Below, I’ve compiled a list of quick Halloween safety tips from the National Safety Council, Safe Kid’s Worldwide, and the CDC for both trick-or-treaters and motorists:

  • Teach your children to never enter a stranger's home or car

  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until they return home

  • If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks

  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs

  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully

  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you

  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house.

  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

There are some simple ways that your department can help spread these tips to your community! First, use your social media platforms to share some of these best practices. Post a list of Halloween safety tips that apply to your community!

Additionally, if your department has any out of school time programs, use the time leading up to Halloween night to help educate your participants. Print handouts of these Halloween Tips to send home with the kids!  Activities like this word scramble would be great to do to drive some of these safety tips home!

I hope that you have a great Halloween!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  safety  Youth Safety 

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10-minute Walk Campaign

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 23, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NRPA is partnering with The Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute on a nationwide 10-Minute Walk Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that each person in every US city has a park within a 10-minute walk.

According to NRPA, one and three Americans do not have a park within a 10-minute walk. That’s a number totaling more than 100 million people! The 10-minute Walk campaign aims to change this alarming statistic.

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.”

A 10-minute walk to a park is important for a variety of reasons. First, the health and wellness benefits of park access are overwhelming. Research shows that walking for 30 minutes per day reduces the risk for depression, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis. Additionally, people living within a 10-minute walk of a park are more likely to participate in physical activity, and have lower rates of obesity. For more information on the health benefits of walking in local parks, check out this video!

In addition to the health benefits associated with parks, NRPA cites a number of other reasons that demonstrate the importance of having access to parks. Click here to view the research behind these benefits!

Interested in getting involved in the 10-minute Walk Campaign? Click this link to see all of the cities that have already signed up. As of now, Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro have entered the commitment. One way to support the campaign is by thanking mayors and sharing the campaign in your cities. Some ways to do this include:

  • Thank participating mayors for making parks a priority

  • Ask new mayors to publicly endorse the campaign

  • Share the 10-minute walk vision with your professional and personal network

Also, share some of these promotional materials to educate your community about the campaign, and to generate more interest in walking efforts.

You can also personally sign up to support this effort at this website. Encourage interested citizens, elected officials, and media members to also sign up.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  walking  Wellness 

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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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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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Move More, Walk Now Workshop

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017

Are you interested in supporting walking initiatives in your community? If so, you don’t want to miss this opportunity! Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is sponsoring their Move More, Walk Now workshop in Cary, NC on September 20th from 9:30 - 3:30. This wellness blog will detail the workshop and provide registration information. The registration deadline is this Friday, September 8th!

Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is  “a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.” To support their mission of “Reversing the rising tide of obesity and chronic disease among North Carolinians by helping them to eat smart, move more and achieve a healthy weight,” the organization offers educational opportunities to the community, such as the upcoming Move More, Walk Now workshop.

The Move More, Walk Now workshop is geared towards “anyone interested in learning more

about supporting walking efforts in their community.” This most definitely includes recreation and park professionals like yourself.

The workshop will be facilitated by Mark Fenton, who spoke at our 2012 conference. Fenton is “a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant and former host of the America’s Walking series on PBS television.”

Move More, Walk Now has been described as an interactive workshop. Attendees will have the chance to participate in a neighborhood walkability audit. A walkability audit is a participatory walk guided by trained facilitators, in which participants will look for fundamental environmental elements that encourage and discourage active lifestyles. The general purpose of an audit is to identify concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists related to the safety, access, comfort, and convenience of the environment. In addition to identifying problem areas, an audit can be used to identify potential alternatives or solutions.

Additionally, attendees will learn to identify features that encourage biking and wheeling and how “pop-ups” can be used to demonstrate changes that will create more walkable communities.

Interested in attending this workshop? Click this link for the registration form.  Since this event is open to any interested people in the state, I would love to see a big representation of recreation and park professionals!

If your agency is not able to pay for your registration fee, financial assistance may be available. Agencies in the following counties are eligible: Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Rockingham, and Wake. Contact Jennifer Delcourt, Active Routes to School Region 5 Coordinator, at for more information. To find out if assistance is available in other counties, visit to connect with your regional coordinator.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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TRACK Trails

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

NCRPA is partnering with Kids in Parks and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to offer TRACK Trail Grants! Check out this wellness blog to learn more about TRACK Trails and to see if your department is eligible to apply. 

TRACK Trails is a unique program that aligns with the mission of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative.  “The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program was formed through a partnership between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation in an attempt to simultaneously fight two of the ailments that face our youth today: nature deficit disorder and childhood obesity.”  

According to the Kids in Parks website, “Kids in Parks is an expanding network of family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoors experience.”

Essentially, TRACK Trails provides signage and brochures to turn any trail into an interactive experience. Each TRACK Trail location is logged on an online map, giving people the opportunity to plan their trip in advance. Additionally, children are encouraged to TRACK their adventures online to receive prizes! This challenge aspect encourages children to get up and outside to discover their next adventure. 

Kids in Parks currently has 81 TRACK Trail locations in North Carolina. The new round of grants will provide funding for 20 additional TRACK Trails in North Carolina, in counties that do not already have existing trails. If you are in one of the eligible counties, please consider applying! We would love to see at least one TRACK trail in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. This table shows a list of eligible counties:

To learn more about Kid's in Parks and the TRACK Trail program, watch a recording of our July Wellness WebinarJason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks, joined us to discuss information regarding the TRACK Trail grants, as well as the health programming that Kids in Parks facilitates.

If you are interested in applying for a TRACK Trail grant, click this link for more information and the application. I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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August is Family Fun Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I can’t believe it is already August! If you did not know, August is Family Fun Month. Family Fun can be a great way to incorporate fitness into your department. This wellness blog will give you five ways to incorporate fun and healthy family fitness programs into your department.

It is universally known that parents encourage behaviors in their children. 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.”

Family Fun Month is the perfect time to hold healthy family-friendly events in your community! Below are five ideas to celebrate Family Fun Month:

  1. Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Parent/Children Athletic Camps: Does your department hold any athletic skill development clinics? If so, inviting parents to participate with their children is a great way to encourage family fitness. Staff members teach and oversee the drills, and parents help in facilitating to their children. This works especially well with younger children and allows the parents to get in on the activity.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 fitness in your community! If your department has a great family fitness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!


Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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The Healing Power of Nature

Posted By Dr. Marisa Tomasic, Monday, July 17, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017

Lovers of the outdoors already know the power of nature in promoting relaxation, harmony, and inner peace. It really comes as no surprise to most of us that being outside connecting with nature is uplifting, energizing, and de-stressing. What you might not realize, however, is that science is backing up what we already know; the great outdoors has the capacity to ‘fix,” or at least improve, much of what ails us!

Getting a good dose of “green” has the power to help us feel better and be healthier. The

benefits of nature on overall health have been documented in studies on both physical health and mental wellness. Spending time in nature, especially forest areas, can positively affect our blood pressure, immune systems, energy levels. stress, and mood. Simply looking at trees can be a mood booster (New York Department of Environmental Conservation), and living and spending vacations in the great outdoors can be a plus for health (Fortune, 2015). Surprisingly, one need not spend lengthy amounts of time in the outdoors to reap benefits. Research has shown that just a few minutes in green environments can be beneficial to our well-being. (Environmental Science & Technology, 2010).

The term “forest bathing” developed out of several years of research from Japan on the health benefits of being in nature, green environments, and forest areas. It essentially means walking in nature and allowing one’s senses to be awakened and invigorated. Are you aware of feeling happier, more joyful, and alive when you’re recreating, exercising, sightseeing, or just sitting in nature, as opposed to indoor venues, allowing the outdoors to infuse your senses? Psychology Today (2014) shared the results of a series of studies published in Environment and Behavior (2014), which looked at the relationship between connection to nature and perceptions of happiness. “Nature-relatedness” was the term used by the researchers to describe this special relationship, defined as one’s connection to nature on an emotional level. They discovered that this connection to nature offered something unique, going beyond more general connectedness to life. Nature-relatedness was also a good predictor of one’s happiness.

It’s interesting and refreshing to know that science has been taking a more robust look at the role of nature in our health, happiness, and well-being. I think most would agree, however, that not a lot of research is warranted to confirm how we feel when we’re taking in a healthy dose of nature in all its glorious splendor.


References: youth/201403/does-nature- make-us- happy

Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2014). Happiness and Feeling Connected The Distinct Role of Nature

Relatedness. Environment and Behavior, 46(1), 3-23.

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (10), pp 3947–3955 benefits-vacations- parks/



Meet the Author

Marisa McMillian Tomasic, Ph.D., was born and raised in Mount Airy, North  Carolina, and is currently a psychologist and freelance writer in Pittsburgh,  Pennsylvania.  She is the mother of two and loves the beach, the Carolina  Tar Heels, and spending time with  family.  


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

Tags:  guest blog  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness 

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Get your Play On: It's Good for Your Health!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, July 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 3, 2017

If you do not know by now, July is Parks and Recreation Month! This year’s theme is Get Your Play On - something that parks and recreation professionals know better than anyone. Both NCRPA and NRPA are challenging you to get your play on. This wellness blog will cover the health benefits of play, and give your department some ways to get involved.


Play is a vital ingredient for our overall health. Whether it’s gaining physical strength through participating in your favorite athletic league or meeting new friends in a book club, play positively impacts our lives. Scientific evidence backs up these claims.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, children who play outdoors regularly:


  • Become fitter and leaner  

  • Develop stronger immune systems  

  • Have more active imaginations  

  • Have lower stress levels

  • Play more creatively  

  • Have greater respect for themselves and others


Play is not only beneficial for children, but also for adults. An article from the Washington Post called “Why It’s Good for Grown Ups to go Play Too” dives deeper into this. “Researchers are turning their attention to (play’s) possible benefits for adults.” The article goes on to state, “What they’re finding is that play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress  and contributing to overall well-being.”


Interested in getting involved in Parks and Recreation month? It’s not too late to start! NRPA created a toolkit with resources to help tell your community to get their play on. Posters, handouts, activity books, social media tips, and more can be found in the toolkit.


There are also a few simple ideas that your department can do to promote parks and recreation month. First,  If you charge admission fees to any of your “play” facilities, pick a date in July to offer discounted fees! Additionally, plan a simple family game night, open gym sessions, and other self-guided activities for your community. Encourage your community to come and get their play on.


It’s also important for YOU to get your play on! Take some time out of your busy week to relax while doing your favorite play idea. NCRPA would like to see how you get your play on! Tag @NCRPA in your social media posts to show us. I hope you have a wonderful Parks and Recreation Month!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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Community Health & Wellness Workshop

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, May 22, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In case you did not know, the NCRPA Wellness Initiative is holding a Community Health & Wellness Workshop on June 8th in Greensboro, NC! The workshop is designed to give you tools to improve the health of your community. This wellness blog will detail the workshop’s sessions and speakers.

The idea for the Community Health & Wellness Workshop stemmed from the NCRPA 2016 Education and Workshops Survey. The survey was distributed to NCRPA members and asked a variety of questions regarding workshops and topics that our members are interested in. In the survey, we asked the question “Would you be interested in attending a wellness event, workshop, or summit?” and the overwhelming majority of respondents selected “yes”. Because of this interest, planning began for a wellness event.

When determining the layout for a wellness event, I began exploring relevant health and wellness topics in North Carolina. This exploration involved analyzing the 2016 NCRPA Park Directors Agency Wellness Assessment, as well as researching current trends in wellness. Through my search, I discovered the elements for our workshop sessions which are included below.

A separate wellness specific survey was sent out to North Carolina Park Directors in 2016. The Park Directors Agency Wellness Assessment found that healthy eating programs were lacking in our departments. To address this shortfalling, we recruited Dr. Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Haynes-Maslow, nutrition and public health expert, has put together a session that will “explore how your agency's out-of-school programs can implement Healthy Out of School Time Standards.” Healthy eating objectives are a major part of these standards will be discussed in depth. Additionally, Dr. Haynes-Maslow will discuss how the NC State Cooperative Extension can help in the implementation of these standards.

In researching current trends in recreation for health programs, the concept of park prescriptions was a major topic area. To address this trend, Dr. Jason Bocarro and Dr. Myron Floyd from NC State University, and Sangamithra Krupakar MBBS, MSPH from the Division of Public Health will  present a session entitled “Thinking Outside the Pillbox: Positioning community parks and recreation to grow healthier communities.” This session will “explore how community parks and recreation services can play a much larger role in providing both prevention and treatment, offering an alternative and a more cost effective and efficient preventive medical approach.” Additionally, attendees will be introduced to the research behind park prescription programs and be given ways to implement these practices into their communities.

A common thread in implementing recreation for health programs that I found were partnerships. These partnerships take individuals from different backgrounds with different skill sets and brought them together to create recreation for health programs. The idea of partnership inspired our next session: the Community Health & Wellness expert panel. This panel of recreation and health care providers will help facilitate a roundtable discussion centered around recreation for health. This roundtable discussion will help attendees gain skills to form community partnerships, give attendees resources to help implement health programs, and more! Our panelists include Alice Keene - Special Projects Coordinator from Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation, Jason Urroz - director of Kids in Parks, and Dave Gardner - Worksite Wellness and School Coordinator with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. Each panelist’s track record has demonstrated a passion for community health & wellness and will bring a wealth of knowledge to our group.

Our is taking place on Thursday, June 8th, 2017 at the Kathleen Clay Edwards Library in Greensboro, NC. The speakers are extremely engaging and will help you in improving wellness in your community. If you are passionate about positively impacting the health and wellness of members of your community, please register today! We would love to get a big turnout to help create a network of health and wellness advocates in our state. Space for the workshop is limited, so please register today!!

Until next time,


Tags:  healthy eating  Healthy Living  ncrpa  ncrpa wellness  workshop 

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