National Public Lands Day is on September 24th and we're really excited about it. Not only are public lands the reason programs like Kids in Parks can exist, but they are the public connection to the natural world. They are places we can go to see plants, animals, rocks, and history that we might not otherwise get to see. We can visit high peaks or deep canyons and everything in between. It's easy to take these places for granted.
Today, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday! For 100 years, our parks have proved again and again why they are America's "best idea." Not only do they provide opportunities for people from around the country and world to immerse themselves in beauty and rich heritage of our natural resources, but they work diligently to protect and preserve those resources for the future. To celebrate, every National Park is inviting you to visit for free from Augus 25-28! This is the perfect opportunity to visit that park you've always wanted to visit or hike that TRACK Trail you've been dreaming of.
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.