(Tarboro, N.C.) – The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program celebrated the opening of its 100th TRACK Trail in North Carolina alongside its partners Edgecombe County, the Town of Tarboro, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation on Thursday, November 1, at Indian Lake Park in Tarboro. The event included a ribbon cutting, guided hike with approximately 25 schoolchildren, and remarks from regional and state leaders.
Founded in 2008, Kids in Parks is a program that gets families outside to explore a national network of TRACK Trails. Each trail features self-guided educational materials that make park visits fun and engaging. The program’s website, kidsinparks.com, allows kids to register their hikes to earn free prizes and plan their next adventure. The Tarboro TRACK Trail, located at Indian Lake Park, will enhance local outdoor recreation opportunities and encourage citizens to become healthier.
“When we installed our first TRACK Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2009, we had no idea the program would expand into a statewide and national effort,” said Jason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks. “Through a common mission, we’ve been able to partner with national parks, state parks, city and county parks, and other public land management agencies to get kids unplugged and outdoors for both their health and the health of our parks and public lands.”
The latest TRACK Trail is part of a statewide effort supported by many community leaders. “One of our department’s goals is to encourage kids and families to spend time outdoors in our national, state and local parks,” said Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, at the event. “Evidence shows that spending time in nature improves both physical and mental health for kids of all ages, and the Kids in Parks trails are designed to specifically appeal to children and get them excited about being active outside. This new trail will be a magnet for families in Tarboro and Edgecombe County.”
The Tarboro TRACK Trail marks the program’s 100th trail in North Carolina, and the 177th in the nation. Thanks to nearly a decade of support from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Kids in Parks is closing in on its goal to install a TRACK Trail in every county in the state. At the event, Merry Davis, Healthy Living Program Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, explained, “The future of healthcare is healthcare providers and communities working together to improve the health of residents. Kids in Parks is one important part of this, and an example of what can happen when passionate people and good ideas come together.”