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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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Winter is (almost) here!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, December 4, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy December! With the holidays, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, December can be a tough time for health and wellness. This wellness blog will give you and your department a few tips on how to promote winter wellness in your community.

While many people in your community exercise outdoors during most of the year, Winter arriving may cause changes to their routine. This could leave many people in your community without regular exercise. If your department has a fitness facility, one way to combat this would be to offer a reduced price seasonal pass to appeal to these individuals. If your community does not have a fitness center, you can still encourage people to use your facilities to stay active! Open gym sessions and group fitness courses can be great ways to get people active.

There are also a number of creative, fun winter themed ideas that your department can consider holding this winter. Artificial snow is a great option for providing the required snow when the weather’s not cooperating. At these events, snow is usually set up on a hill for sledding, or in a field for other snow activities. Even some of our departments from the coast have success with artificial snow! If your department is located near a ski resort, establish a contact with them. You could potentially hold partner events where more people can have fun in the snow. One company I have heard of that a number of our departments who hold snowy events use is Snow My Yard.

These fun events are great ways to promote physical activity! According to Orthopedic surgeon Angela Smith from, ice skating builds muscles, boosts balance, flexibility, quickness, and agility. Additionally,  Both sledding and other traditional snow activities burn calories and are fun ways to get people active in the colder weather.

Last year, the Wellness Blog discussed an annual snow event hosted by Swansboro Parks and Recreation. Click this link to review the old blog post.

Hopefully, this wellness blog has given you some tips on how to make the most out of the colder weather that winter brings. Encourage your communities to stay safe and get outside this winter!

Until next time,


Tags:  fitness  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness  winter 

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Fall is here!

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

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

Fall foliage is one of the most beautiful things our state has to offer. The autumnal colors of red, yellow, and brown make for something special and are a great opportunity for outdoor recreation programs. Promote fall foliage walks throughout your parks. Find out when the peak time of fall foliage is in your area using this map, and spread the word. This can be done using flyers and social media posts. Have participants take pictures of their walk and share them with your department.

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

Fall produce is another great aspect of the season changing. The North Carolina Produce Availability Chart is a handy resource to use will give you all of the seasonal produce. Apples, corn, and of course, pumpkins are some of the produce coming into season all across North Carolina.  You may be able to get cheap produce to give out during your recreation programs. Take advantage of the season and stock up on all the produce fall has to offer!

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

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

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

Until next time,


Tags:  fitness  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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Fall Fitness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19th, 2016


Good Morning! 


Fall has practically arrived! Athletics are in full swing, as well as the harvest of fall produce. With the change of the season, we can also look forward to a change in our weather. This change can make getting outside and active a lot more tolerable.  This week's wellness blog will give you some ideas to experience fall fitness for yourself and your recreation programs.

Fall foliage is one of the most beautiful things our state has to offer. The autumnal colors of red, yellow, and brown make for something special and are a great opportunity for outdoor recreation programs. Promote fall foliage walks throughout your parks. Find out when the peak time of fall foliage is in your area using these maps, and spread the word. This can be done using flyers and social media posts. Have participants take pictures of their walk and share them with your department.

With the fall foliage comes the clean up of those leaves once they fall. This offers a unique, fun wellness activity. Try reaching out to local community groups such as boy & girl scout troops to get their help raking leaves. As a cub scout, I remember yearly trips to a local park to help out with the maintenance. This is a fun way to get outside and active, and has some surprising health benefits.  

Visiting local family farms could also be an interesting wellness activity for fall. Whether it’s walking through a corn maze, or picking apples and pumpkins, these fall activities can offer fun wellness activities for the whole family. Some farms have volunteer opportunities for “gleaning” where volunteers can gather leftover produce after harvest. Try establishing partnerships with these family farms. These partnerships would be mutually beneficial for both your department and the farm. This could be a great field trip idea for fall track out camp programming! Your department could even work to establish a fall festival day at a family farm to get even more people there and active. For a list of pumpkin patch farms in your area, please use this map.

Fall produce is another great aspect of the season changing. I know that I have shared the North Carolina Produce Availability Chart in past posts, but this thing is truly amazing. Local produce is often cheaper, more readily available, and in my opinion tastes fresher. Apples, corn, and of course, pumpkins are some of the produce coming into season all across North Carolina.  You may be able to get cheap produce to give out during your recreation programs. Take advantage of the season and stock up on all the produce fall has to offer!

If you are looking to spend more time outdoors during the fall, consider that the days are shorter and the nights are longer. Be sure that you are not caught out in the dark!

Tags:  Fitness  wellness 

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Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, April 25, 2016

Happy Monday, 

Next week we enter into the month of May! It is important to keep finding ways to engage your department and community in an active and healthy lifestyle.  The month of May is another perfect opportunity to do so, as it is dedicated to Global Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM).  So what is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month? It is an international and national observance of health and fitness in the workplace. The main priority is to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle through health promotion activities and environments. Organizations are invited to participate in this month long event by challenging their teams to create healthy moments, healthy groups, and developing healthy initiative projects. More information can be found by clicking the following link:

NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative invites your department to participate in Global Employee Health & Fitness Month. Participants can log activities on the GEHFM website during the course of the month, which will allow organizations to track, share, and promote their individual and group activities. Some examples include: challenging employees to create healthy moments, forming health awareness groups, or developing a culminating health project in your community. If your department needs ideas then please check our Employee Wellness Programs webpage, containing valuable information discussing examples of employee wellness programs in North Carolina.

The next Wellness Webinar will be Tuesday, April 26 at 1:00pm. Larry Cassella, Employee Wellness Coordinator for the Town of Cary, will be presenting. His topic will focus on wellness programs, and 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:

Let’s continue to inspire our departments and communities to become active during the month of May.  If you have any ideas regarding Global Employee Health & Fitness Month, we would love to hear from you and your experience! Please email us or submit your ideas on the wellness site here: (,



Tags:  Employee Wellness  Fitness  GEHFM 

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Month in Review: Wellness Initiative Blogs

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, December 28, 2015
Updated: Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Monday,

It is exciting to think we are only a couple days away from 2016! Today’s blog briefly reviews the past five blogs that discussed ways to enter the New Year fit and health conscious!

1.  Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays blog:  provides tricks and ideas to reduce calorie consumption without sacrificing all the treats. WebMD: Food and Recipes has 10 Healthy Holiday Party Tips to get you started! More healthy tricks and replacements can be found on the American Heart Association website. Additionally, check out our Local Produce page to get more healthy food options in the state of North Carolina.

2. Get Motivated With These Fitness Apps blog: focuses on creating incentives to stay health conscious through the use of free mobile iOS and Android apps. These health-focused apps track not only your progress, but creates an enjoyable and innovative experience for you to remain healthy. Additionally, these apps provide daily workout routines and healthy food options ideas and suggestions. 

3. Winter Workout Tips blog: discusses workout and nutrition ideas to build unity among your department and bring together coworkers for engaging activities. Be sure to share these ideas with your department and community to help keep everyone active during the festive winter season.

4. 2016 Program Ideas and Activities: focuses on five activities for adults, children, and families, as well as healthy concessions and vending opportunities. For more information and ideas for program opportunities during 2016 please listen to our NCRPA 8 Program Ideas webinar from last January:

5. Healthy Substitutions for Everyday Foods blog: offers some heart-healthy substitutions that you can incorporate both in your daily meal preparations or when cooking and baking for larger groups. Refer back to our Health Cooking/Nutrition Programs for more information on healthy eating practices. Don’t’ forget the January 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, as well as discussing benefits of partnering with a corporate partner for a race. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, January 12th at 1:00pm. To register please click the link:

This coming April 2016, NCRPA is hosting the first ever statewide 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 our NC Recre8 5k race, visit the race page:, or contact myself ( ) or matt (

I challenge all of you during the rest of December to engage yourself in healthy holiday eating practices and to exercise regularly. Set a goal to ring in the New Year, and maintain these holiday nutrition and exercise tips throughout the year for a healthy lifestyle. If you have any healthy eating ideas or exercise tips during the holiday season then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net

See you in 2016!


Tags:  Active Lifestyle  Fitness  Healthy Cleaning  Healthy Live  Holiday Eating  NCRPA  Wellness 

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Me in My Park

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, April 13, 2015

Happy Monday, 

The past couple blogs have focused on inspiring your departments to promote active living and healthy eating challenges, such as the NPHW “We Can Do Better Contest” by the American Public Health Association and The Ellen DeGeneres #GimmeFive Dance Challenge. The warmer weather has made it perfect to help motivate your community to participate in activities that lead to healthier lives, not only through national challenges, but on a daily basis.

As we continue into warmer months, it is important to remind communities how becoming active outside, especially at community parks, can dramatically improve their overall health. The Trust for Public Land shared a video explaining why it is important for nation’s improvement of health. According to their statistics, 95% of adults, 92% of adolescents and 58% of children don’t meet the daily recommendations for physical activity. However, this trend can be reversed with “steps” in the right direction. It has been proven that the more parks there are in a community, the more people exercise, enhancing both their physical and mental health. Additionally features, such as sport fields, and playground equipment also attract more people to the area, allowing for better use and increased participation. So it is determined that parks are essential to the overall improvement of a communities lifestyle. 

To watch The Trust for Public Land video then pleas click the following link:

So here is the challenge NCRPA is asking from your departments! Last summer NCRPA started a social media campaign called Me In My Park, challenging people to upload pictures to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of themselves, or groups of people, leading active lifestyles. We are reinstituting the challenge this summer, but with an added feature! Starting May 1st, 2015 until August 1st, 2015, NCRPA is asking your department, individuals, and communities to post pictures to social media while at their community park using the hashtag #MeinMyPark, bonus if you also use #Ncrecre8. This time we will be selecting up to 8 of the best pictures that represents a creative and engaging way of leading a healthy life while using park systems. We will select 2 photos for every month of the challenge, and the winners will receive a special NCRecrea8 prize package!

Let’s inspire our communities to become more active during the summer months by sharing health related information and how parks can empower change in their daily lives!  If you have any questions or ideas about the #MeinMyPark Challenge, then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  #MeandMyPark  #Ncrecre8  Fitness  Healthy Living  Wellness 

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Workplace Wellness

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, January 12, 2015

The beginning of a new year is a great time to create new programs and ideas for the upcoming year. Today’s blog focuses on how to improve your department’s health by creating an employee wellness program. What exactly is an employee wellness program? An employee wellness program, also called a “worksite wellness program,” is a program designed to promote and support the health, safety, and well-being of employees. Establishing an employee wellness program is a motivating way to start off the New Year promoting unity and healthy choices within your department.

Why develop an employee wellness programs? A wellness program has many positive attributes such as improving staff health, morale and productivity. Also supporting the staff to make healthy lifestyle choices will encourage them to be role models for the community.

What are some components of an employee wellness program? Some components include providing wellness newsletters, health risk assessments, health screenings, workshops on wellness issues, walking or running groups, health fairs, physical activity breaks, and fitness classes. Other incentives to remain healthy include: water bottles, insulated lunch bags, stress balls or cookbooks! Employees may have other ideas in your department, so ask around!

The next step is knowing how to start an employee wellness program. Here are some of the basic steps to getting a program started: (More resources can be found at:

1.    Contact Human Resources to see if a program exists and how it can be implemented in your department, or how they can assist you in starting one.

2.    Develop a staff advisory committee to coordinate and plan the program.

3.    Conduct a needs and resources assessment. Determining employee needs, interests, concerns and schedules will help outline the structure of the wellness program.

4.    Develop program components and activities based on findings of the needs assessment.

5.    Include incentives to encourage employee participation.

6.    Notify employees of the program through flyers, e-mails, payroll stuffers, and posters.

7.    Implement the program.

8.    Evaluate the program!

This is just one of many ideas for healthy living programs to create during the upcoming year. Our upcoming webinar will focus on another 8 program ideas for 2015 conducted by NCRPA on January 28th, 11:30am; Register here:

If you have any new ideas for employee wellness programs, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,

Tags:  Fitness  Health  NCRPA  Organization  Wellness  Wellness bulletin 

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Offering More Healthy Options in 2015

Posted By AARON DAVIS, Mebane Recreation & Parks, Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome to 2015, the gyms are packed full of people who want to obtain their new year’s resolution of losing weight, becoming fit and most importantly living healthier. So, as a recreation professional, you already supply a weight room or workout area for the public, along with miles and miles of greenways, running and walking tracks, that will hopefully get used just as much in January when our resolutionaires, (yes, I made that word up), are putting in the work, as it does in June and July when those resolutions hopefully are still intact. However, what can we do to help our communities eat healthier as well? Maybe it’s our turn to take a stab at helping the citizens we serve not only reach their fitness goals but also empower them to be healthy in their food choices!


So, I have the perfect idea for you!


Let’s take all of the junk food out of our concession stands at all of our recreation centers and parks, most importantly our vending machines and stock pile them with all healthy foods and drinks.


Um...that's expensive, and what if everyone doesn’t eat it? We might lose money and the bosses don’t like losing money!


But if we go 100% healthy, everyone will have no choice but to drink our water and buy our healthy snacks!


Oh, wait, we decided already that not everyone wants those healthy things. 


I know! What if we keep items like hotdogs and hamburgers, but offer them along with healthier options and healthier sides/snacks? This way we are not completely preventing our customers from the things that they want, hopefully in moderation!   


So it’s settled then, we add healthy items to sell to those who are already health conscious, we eliminate the unhealthy items that don’t sell, keep traditional items like hotdogs and hamburgers and continue to turn a great profit on all of the items. 


So clap along if you feel like creating a HEALTHIER community in which you work in! 




1.        Find out what items like traditional items like hot-dogs and hamburgers you community likes and keep them.

2.        Find out what you sell the least and kick it

3.        Offer free samples during big events to expose your community to healthier options!

4.        Offer mutable fruit options, items you can freeze have added value!  

5.        Try offering Fruit Smoothies – you can use the frozen fruit

a)        Yeah, I just saved you some money there too!

6.        Offer nutrition facts about the health and the non-healthy items

a)        You might inspire someone to change

b)        But don't expect to change everyone and don't push them to change

7.        Develop a marketing plan

a)        Design signage that will appeal to your healthy eaters, leave it up!

8.        Partner with others in your area that promote a healthy lifestyle for discounted goods or incentives. 

a)        Local Farms, athletic stores, Health Stores etc...

9.        Search for a grants and funding that may help you fund some of the transition

10.    Be healthy yourself, because the more motivation you have, the more motivation you’ll have to inspire change in others!



Tags:  Blogs  Fitness  Health  Parks  Recreation  Tips  Wellness 

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Trying to Stay Healthy this Winter? There’s an App for That!

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - North Carolina Recreation & Park Association, Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hello everyone,  

Can you believe its December already? As the weather becomes colder and the days shorter, it is important to find ways to stay active and healthy during the winter months. Today’s bulletin will focus on creating incentives to stay active and eat healthy through the use free mobile/iOS apps that will not only track your progress, but create a more enjoyable and innovative experience for you to remain healthy.

First, The Nike Training Club is a great personal trainer app, ranging with timed workouts from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. The workout program includes detailed instructions and audio support for over 100 featured dynamic drills, all designed to increase body strength, flexibility, agility, and stamina. Plus it tracks your training progress and workout history. Ab Workouts is an app focused on abdominal exercises with animations and a trainer’s voice guiding you through the exercises. The app includes a food list providing you with what foods are the healthiest to keep you fit.

Just because the temperature drops it doesn’t mean you can’t bundle-up and go for a run this winter! MapMyRun GPS is a great running app for any walker, jogger and competitive runner. This unique app tracks and logs your distance, pace, and calculates the total amount of calories burned. Nike+ Running and RunKeeper are also comparable apps and a great way to track your runs on a treadmill or outdoors. All of these apps allow you to build a running community by sharing your runs and routes with friends and coworkers.

So what should you eat after a workout to refuel your body properly? There are plenty of free educational healthy food apps that offer recipes and advice on eating. Foodily Recipes is one great source and is the world’s largest social recipe network. This healthy food app will allow you to find and share delicious and most importantly healthy recipes. Additionally, Fooducate is another great educational app. This app allows you to scan barcodes of products giving you a nutrition grade range from A to D. This is an informative app that will aid you in making smarter educated choices for food intake.

Exploring ways to be inspired and motivated is the key for staying healthy and fit, especially during the colder months. NCRPA and I challenge you to find a way to incorporate these mobile apps, or more, among your department. Whether that is connecting among coworkers through discovering new running routes or sharing healthy recipes you have discovered. Strength is in numbers when it comes to reaching a common goal! Whether it is with your peer group or your community sharing and supporting a common goal to increase the opportunities to become more active and health conscious is one we can all get behind. Most importantly, don’t think of staying healthy as a burden but an enjoyable learning experience that improves the overall health of our communities and state!

If you have any programing ideas or ways to incorporate mobile device apps among your department then please email us or submit them on the wellness site here (, For every idea submitted you will be entered to win a cool NCRPA T-shirt!


Tags:  Ab Workouts  Apps  Fitness  Fooducate  Health  NCRPA  Nike+ Running  Recreation  RunKeeper  The Nike Training Club  Wellness 

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