As the old saying goes... "If you can't beat them... join them!" Even though the Kids in Parks program was designed to get kids and families to "unplug" from their devices and spend more time outdoors, sometimes you've got to meet them where they're at in order to get them on-board with your ideas. So, the Kids in Parks program is on social media... and lately, we're blowing up!
The program’s original goal was to get kids and families to use the hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway as resources for their health. However, the program’s staff realized that kids and families who are inexperienced in outdoor recreation may not choose a national park as their first step into nature because, after all, “that’s where the bears are at!” As a result, the program created “gateway trails” in local parks, state parks and other public land locations that are closer to home. To rapidly expand the network, Kids in Parks partnered with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association to provide grants to install TRACK Trails in local parks throughout North Carolina.
In 2008, when the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation partnered together to form the Kids in Parks program they probably didn’t expect it to develop into a national network of trails designed for kids and families. After all, Kids in Parks was originally designed to get kids and families to think about the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway as resources for their health. So, how did the program grow from one trail on the Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, into a national network of more than 140 trails in eight states?
The Kids in Parks program partnered with the College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina Wilmington through their five-county collaborative group called the Southeastern North Carolina Regional Health Collaborative (SENCRHC) to install five new TRACK Trails in the southeastern region of the state.
How did you celebrate National Get Outdoors Day last weekend? (June 11). At the Chilhowee Recreation Area in Cherokee National Forest, kids and families celebrated the grand opening of the Kids in Parks program’s 140th TRACK Trail, and the first TRACK Trail in Tennessee!
Kids in Parks opened its first Historic Main Street TRACK Trail in the richly historical Town of Rutherfordton, North Carolina on May 5, 2016.
They aren’t wearing white lab coats, but there are already young citizen scientists collecting data at Front Lake at Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. On April 27, the Kids in Parks program opened its first Citizen Science TRACK Trail designed to engage kids in learning and caring for the park’s ecosystem while helping staff researchers and natural resource managers.
On Sunday, April 24, a healthy crowd of kids and families gathered at the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Asheville Visitor Center TRACK Trail to celebrate National Park Rx Day. The event was held in celebration of National Park Week and as the kick-off of the Kids in Parks program’s TRACK Rx materials.
To celebrate National Park Rx Day, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program, Blue Ridge Parkway and National Park Service are hosting a family-friendly event at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 24, at the Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville. The afternoon will include a guided hike with park rangers and local pediatricians and more activities to spread awareness about the enjoyment and health benefits provided by outdoor adventures.
The Interpretive Graphic Artist will help create the Kids in Parks program’s graphic materials: brochures, trailhead signs, interpretive panels, a newsletter, and other creative projects. They will also maintain the program’s website and social media.