As Americans, it’s easy for us to recognize the issues surrounding children and their lack of connection to and interaction with nature here in the United States; but the problem of children disconnecting from nature is truly a global challenge. In March, Kids in Parks Director Jason Urroz attended the Salzburg Global Seminar’s session titled, “The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play,” to work with 50 leaders representing 23 countries to address the multiple facets of this important issue.
On April 23, the Kids in Parks program joined the National Park Service, National ParkRx initiative, and several other park prescription programs from across the country in celebrating the second annual National Park Rx Day. The annual ceremony takes place on the last day of National Park Week, and doctors nationwide prescribe the events to their patients to get them active outdoors and connect them with the health benefits associated with spending time in parks.
The community of Laramie and surrounding areas turned out in big numbers for the opening of the Fort Laramie NHS TRACK Trail. As the speakers engaged the crowd, the sense of pride in the natural and cultural riches of the park became evident. Park Superintendent, Tom Baker, emphasized the parks ties to the people of the community and the dedication to broadening the range of opportunities for visitors to experience the amazing resources at the Fort and bring kids outdoors...
The National Park Service and North Carolina State Parks share a birthday this year. Both agencies turned 100! To celebrate the BIG one, the North Carolina State Parks department and Kids in Parks cut the ribbon on a new trail atop Mount Mitchell, the state's first park and the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. The trail marks the North Carolina State Park's 23rd TRACK Trail and the 80th TRACK Trail in the state!
The TRACK Trails at the C&O Canal National Historical Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, and Antietam National Battlefield are about to be inundated with Trail TRACKers. That’s because Kids in Parks has formed a partnership with Meritus Health, a hospital system in Washington County, Maryland, to expand their TRACK Rx program.
Now, when kids and families drive through Shenandoah National Park on the 100-mile long Skyline Drive, they’ll have three opportunities to get out of their car and stretch their legs on a TRACK Trail. That’s because Kids in Parks partnered with Shenandoah
Three years ago, Kids in Parks installed three TRACK Trails in partnership with San Diego County Parks. One of the trails, the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve, has been the program's most registered TRACK Trail three years in a row. Because of this success, the county recently partnered with Kids in Parks to install two new TRACK Trails, giving kids and families from the region a total of five locations to get outdoors and active in parks!
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?