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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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50 at 50 - September 22

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 22, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017
On Tuesday, Wanda Parmlee, Nicole Miller, and I were fortunate to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new San-Lee Park Nature Center. The story of this new building begins 2 years, 10 months and 2 days before the ribbon cutting with a fire that destroyed the previous building. I recall hearing about this fire on my local TV station and from conversations I had with Lee County Parks & Recreation staff soon after the fire, I learned many groups assisted with the housing and care of the animals that survived the fire until they could be returned to the park.

San-Lee Park was opened in 1978 and is 177 acres. This property and the pumping station that housed the previous nature center was constructed in 1933 and served as the water supply for Sanford. When a new water supply was built by the city, the county worked to obtain this property and develop an educational park.

As the saying goes, a phoenix rises from the ashes and that is the case at San-Lee Park. Surrounded by 2 lakes for fishing and paddle boats, 12 miles of top-rated mountain biking trails, 4 miles of hiking trails, tent camping facilities, and a meadow with a small playground and open space, the nature center is the feature attraction. At just over 6000 square feet inside and a 2300 square feet deck overlooking the lake, this facility has exhibition space to allow visitors to learn about nature and the animals kept in the center. In addition to the exhibits, the center has a classroom for programming, an event space with kitchen and access to the desk, along with office space for the staff.

I think Amy Dalrymple, Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners shared some important words, “this is something for Lee County residents to be proud of and to remember that is it important to get outside and take a breath of fresh air”. In closing, she encouraged all to bring their families and tell their friends. I would concur, tt is a place I want to visit again with my friends.

You can find San-Lee Park at 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford, NC and more information about the park at

Note: Special thanks to Lee County Parks & Recreation and HH Architecture for inviting the NCRPA staff to join you in the celebration.

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Tags:  50at50  Nature  parks  recreation 

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Outdoor Group Fitness Courses

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 18, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This Friday, September 22nd at 1:00 pm, Kasey Summers from Mount Airy Parks and Recreation joins us for our September Wellness Webinar! Kasey will discuss the city's outdoor group fitness classes. The webinar will discuss courses offered, challenges of offering group fitness classes outdoors, instructor training, and more! This wellness blog will focus on group fitness courses and offer more ideas on events to bring outside now that the weather is a bit milder.

Group fitness courses are a very popular way that people consume fitness. Studies have shown that that fellow exercisers keep you motivated while exercising and that watching others & learning proper form reduces the risk of injury.

There are a variety of other benefits to group fitness courses including accountability, socialization, consistent schedule, and when developed by a qualified instructor, a safe and effective workout.

When offering group fitness courses, selecting a qualified instructor may be the difference between a great class and a not so great class. There are a number of pieces of training that are available to instructors, including a variety of different certification programs.

Organizations that offer certifications to look for include the American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness, and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Additionally due to the rigorous aspect of group fitness courses, selecting an instructor with a CPR/AED Certification may be a good idea.

Additionally, this time of year brings the opportunity to move programs back outside. While our webinar focuses on outdoor group fitness courses, there are other traditional indoor activities that can be moved outdoors. Even if it is not a planned outdoor course, on a beautiful mild Autumn day, you could give registrants the choice to go outside. This would give them the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and the added benefits of vitamin D from the sun.

I hope that you join us on this Friday, September 22nd for our wellness webinar! This topic will be covered in detail, along with some great examples of how you can bring this concept to your department. To register for the webinar, click this link.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 15

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 15, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
One afternoon, I found myself in Rolesville. You might ask yourself, where is Rolesville. It is nestled in northeastern Wake County just outside of Raleigh. It is the second oldest town in Wake County and one of the fastest growing towns in our state for the past several years. After a visit to the parks and recreation office, I made my way to Main Street Park - located as you might have guessed at 200 South Main Street.

Main Street park is about 36 acres and was established in 2005. In addition to the four shelters, gazebo, open play field, and two playgrounds, the park has just over one mile of greenway trail. This greenway has exercise equipment that was added soon after the park opened before many other locations began to incorporate this feature into greenways. The town is currently working with Wake County Parks, Recreation & Open Space to connect the greenway in Main Street Park to their greenway at Mill Bridge Nature Park. From here, the greenway trails currently connect with the Wake Forest Parks & Recreation greenways giving citizens from both towns access to multiple greenways and parks.

Sanford Creek Elementary School shares a border with the park, and the greenway connects to the school’s multipurpose field. In the past, on National Walk to School Day, the Rolesville Mayor has met the kids in the park, and they all walked to school.

In my conversations with Parks & Recreation Director JG Ferguson at his office, he shared that earlier in the morning he had seen buses from 3 daycare centers in the park. During my visit, I was fortunate to see people of all ages enjoying the park. An older couple were walking the greenway, lots of kids were enjoying the playgrounds, and a family was having dinner at a picnic shelter. All wonderful ways to spend a summertime evening.

For more information on Main Street Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Rolesville 

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Back to School Wellness

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 11, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 25, 2017

With traditional school back in full swing, I thought it would be a good idea to cover some healthy practices that your department should adopt for your out of school time programs. Whether it is before and after school care, or a track out camp program, this wellness blog will give you some ideas to implement healthy practices.

The first practice to consider is adopting the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) Healthy Out of School Time Standards (HOST). According to the AHG website, the HOST standards “gives out-of-school time providers a science-based framework designed to help create environments where youth are encouraged to eat healthier and move more.” The website continues to say “Our initiative works to support the staff, families, and youth at these sites (Afterschool programs, community centers, summer camps, and other out-of-school time settings) around the country in their efforts to help young people make healthy life choices.

To assist in the adoption of HOST standards in your department, there are a few steps to take. First, take the HOST assessment. This assessment helps your department identify current strengths and weaknesses for 11 Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards.

To learn more about the HOST Standards, click this link to read the wellness blog post from March.

NCRPA’s Wellness Initiative has also compiled resources to help in offering healthy snacks to the children in your programs. First, there’s the Healthy Snacks Guidelines page on the Wellness Toolkit. This page provides guidelines for selecting healthy options to have for children in your programs, as well as other resources to help you incorporate healthy snacks into your department.

Additionally, check out our NCRPA Wellness Webinar from 2014. This webinar expands on the information in the wellness toolkit and will give you more information on offering healthy snacks in your out of school time programming.

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has developed healthy eating and physical activity standards for children grades K-12 that are in before-school, after-school, and summer camp program through their Commit to Health program.  These standards include a number of physical activity and healthy eating goals. For a summarized version of the standards, visit the NCRPA Wellness Toolkit.

I hope that this wellness blog has given you some resources to help with your back to school programming!

Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 8

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 8, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, September 6, 2017
I recently made a trek to the Piedmont region of our state and had the opportunity to stop in Kernersville. Just a few miles off I-40 and near the heart of downtown I found Harmon Park. When looking for a park on the town’s website, the story of this park is what attracted me to it. When I talked to Parks & Recreation Director Ernie Pages and got more information, I was delighted I made this my pick.

This is the first park for the town of Kernersville and it became a park in the 1930’s. It is named after D.W. Harmon who served as the Town Clerk in the 1920’s. Upon his death, he bequeathed part of his land to the town to become its very first town park. On the corner of the property is a little house. This house served as Mr. Harmon’s office, and later as the town hall, police department, library and now is the office for the Kernersville Little Theatre.

At just over 2 acres, this park has a lot going on with a picnic shelter, wedding gazebo, fountain, playground, open space and flower garden. I noticed that most everything in the park had a plaque dedicating the item to the memory of someone. On the town’s website, I found out that in the spirit of Harmon’s original donation many other town citizens have donated additions to this park over the years.

Harmon Park is the site of the first Declan’s Playground built in honor of Declan Donoghue and his spirit of play. Declan passed away at the age of 2. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations. Due to his love of playgrounds, his family worked with the town to build a playground in his honor and donated 40-50% of the cost. With a second Declan’s Playground at another Kernersville park, the family has also built or planned playgrounds in Greensboro and High Point.

As I was taking a few pictures at the park, a lady spoke to me and said she and her grandson came every day. I questioned her on the everyday part and she said, “yes, every day.” She is his daytime caregiver and every morning he asks to go the park. So that is what they do. Hearing of his love for the park and playground made me smile. If you ever question if our profession has an impact, hearing a story like this should give us all affirmation that it does.

I wish my schedule that day had allowed me more time to just sit on a bench, listen to the fountain and watch the kids play. With several picnic tables and its proximity to downtown, I can imagine it is a popular spot at lunch time on pretty days. Maybe on a return visit, I will be able to do just that.

For more information on Harmon Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Kernersville  parks  Recreation 

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Move More, Walk Now Workshop

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, September 4, 2017
Updated: Monday, August 28, 2017

Are you interested in supporting walking initiatives in your community? If so, you don’t want to miss this opportunity! Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is sponsoring their Move More, Walk Now workshop in Cary, NC on September 20th from 9:30 - 3:30. This wellness blog will detail the workshop and provide registration information. The registration deadline is this Friday, September 8th!

Eat Smart, Move More North Carolina is  “a statewide movement that promotes increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity wherever people live, learn, earn, play and pray.” To support their mission of “Reversing the rising tide of obesity and chronic disease among North Carolinians by helping them to eat smart, move more and achieve a healthy weight,” the organization offers educational opportunities to the community, such as the upcoming Move More, Walk Now workshop.

The Move More, Walk Now workshop is geared towards “anyone interested in learning more

about supporting walking efforts in their community.” This most definitely includes recreation and park professionals like yourself.

The workshop will be facilitated by Mark Fenton, who spoke at our 2012 conference. Fenton is “a national public health, planning, and transportation consultant and former host of the America’s Walking series on PBS television.”

Move More, Walk Now has been described as an interactive workshop. Attendees will have the chance to participate in a neighborhood walkability audit. A walkability audit is a participatory walk guided by trained facilitators, in which participants will look for fundamental environmental elements that encourage and discourage active lifestyles. The general purpose of an audit is to identify concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists related to the safety, access, comfort, and convenience of the environment. In addition to identifying problem areas, an audit can be used to identify potential alternatives or solutions.

Additionally, attendees will learn to identify features that encourage biking and wheeling and how “pop-ups” can be used to demonstrate changes that will create more walkable communities.

Interested in attending this workshop? Click this link for the registration form.  Since this event is open to any interested people in the state, I would love to see a big representation of recreation and park professionals!

If your agency is not able to pay for your registration fee, financial assistance may be available. Agencies in the following counties are eligible: Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Rockingham, and Wake. Contact Jennifer Delcourt, Active Routes to School Region 5 Coordinator, at for more information. To find out if assistance is available in other counties, visit to connect with your regional coordinator.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - September 1

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 1, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Welcome to September and what has been an unseasonably cool week.  I recently made a trip to the Town of Wake Forest where I met Director Ruben Wall, Athletics Superintendent Ed Austin and Recreation Program Superintendent Monica Lileton.  While in their office, I got to see the graphic they are using to check off the 150 standards of CAPRA accreditation and their Road to Indianapolis!  

After visiting a few of their parks, we found our way to E. Carroll Joyner Park.  The park is 117 acres and became part of the Wake Forest park system in 2009. This park currently has 33 unused acres and will be the site of a new community center scheduled to come online in 2019. This land was once owned by the Walker Family, and there is a flower garden dedicated to them along with several farm buildings.  Just before becoming a park, the property was owned by E. Carroll Joyner and was used as a cattle farm for 35 years.  

With no ball fields or playgrounds, it looks like a passive park, but there is so much to do there.  With a 1000 seat amphitheater and 171 parking spaces, it is good to have space for overflow parking.  The park hosts summer concerts, movie nights and about 20 events each year.  There are 3.1 miles of greenway in the park.  On the day I was there, outdoor fitness equipment was being installed along the greenway.  The park maintenance facility is on the backside of the park, and they have a tree nursery where volunteers grow trees to be used in the park system.  Joyner Park is the site of weddings and a popular location for prom and family photo shoots.  

There were three things that stood out to me.  First was the pecan grove. This area has probably 15-20 mature pecan trees that form a shady area in the park and provide pecans for citizens.  The second was an impressive free-standing rock wall with only gravity and well-placed rocks holding it together.. The rock walls are located around the park and compliment the ‘farm feel’ of the park.  Lastly, is a natural area that is part of the Butterfly Highway. The meadow is a refuge offering food and shelter for the Monarch Butterfly and Eastern Meadowlark.

And while we were approaching the pecan grove, a young deer couldn’t decide which way to go with us coming from one direction and a young boy coming from the other.  With that "deer in the headlights look," it sprinted away, and every time it got to the asphalt greenway, it leaped over it providing smiles and entertainment to us. 

If you are in the Wake Forest area, check out E. Carroll Joyner Park for yourself. More information is available at 

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Wake Forest 

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TRACK Trails

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

NCRPA is partnering with Kids in Parks and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to offer TRACK Trail Grants! Check out this wellness blog to learn more about TRACK Trails and to see if your department is eligible to apply. 

TRACK Trails is a unique program that aligns with the mission of the NCRPA Wellness Initiative.  “The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program was formed through a partnership between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation in an attempt to simultaneously fight two of the ailments that face our youth today: nature deficit disorder and childhood obesity.”  

According to the Kids in Parks website, “Kids in Parks is an expanding network of family-friendly outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that turn your visit into a fun and exciting outdoors experience.”

Essentially, TRACK Trails provides signage and brochures to turn any trail into an interactive experience. Each TRACK Trail location is logged on an online map, giving people the opportunity to plan their trip in advance. Additionally, children are encouraged to TRACK their adventures online to receive prizes! This challenge aspect encourages children to get up and outside to discover their next adventure. 

Kids in Parks currently has 81 TRACK Trail locations in North Carolina. The new round of grants will provide funding for 20 additional TRACK Trails in North Carolina, in counties that do not already have existing trails. If you are in one of the eligible counties, please consider applying! We would love to see at least one TRACK trail in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. This table shows a list of eligible counties:

To learn more about Kid's in Parks and the TRACK Trail program, watch a recording of our July Wellness WebinarJason Urroz, Director of Kids in Parks, joined us to discuss information regarding the TRACK Trail grants, as well as the health programming that Kids in Parks facilitates.

If you are interested in applying for a TRACK Trail grant, click this link for more information and the application. I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - August 25

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 25, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 24, 2017

This week’s post is from South Carolina and a trip that has been in the works since late 2016.  I went to Lake Hartwell to be in the path of totality of the Great American Eclipse and it was AWESOME!  Lake Hartwell is a man-made reservoir bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers. The lake is created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River and comprises nearly 56,000 acres of water with a shoreline of 962 miles. 

An extended weekend camping trip was the best way to avoid traffic.  We camped at Twin Lakes Campground which is one of the 9 campgrounds managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Hartwell.  The Twin Lakes area also has a day use area with shelters, swimming beach, boat ramp and fishing pier.  

When not swimming or floating in the lake, there were ample opportunities for bird watching.  Lake Hartwell is home to more than 250 species of birds.  When we first arrived, we were greeted by a hawk at our campsite and over the course of our stay, we saw great blue herons, ospreys, and numerous other birds.

The main attraction was the eclipse.  With eclipse viewing glasses in hand, we watched as the moon first crossed in front of the sun.  As 2:37 pm approached, the excitement began to build. The people at the swimming beach got quiet and came to the water’s edge.  The temperature cooled and the sky darkened. Then it happened. The moon completely blocked the sun from view and the corona was visible for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds!

Since this experience, I have found it hard to find the right words to adequately describe what I experienced. Fabulous, amazing, remarkable, breathtaking, and unbelievable are some of the words that come to mind.   

If you were in NC, where most saw only 90-95% totality, you missed the real show!  I encourage you to put this on your bucket list.  Your next opportunity to view a total solar eclipse in the contiguous US is April 8, 2024. The path of totality will enter at Texas and exit through Maine.  That is just a little less than 7 years from now.  Based on the number of people who saw the eclipse on Monday and those who missed it and say they will be in totality in 2024, I think it is time for all of us to make our plans!

For more information on Lake Hartwell visit

PS - it is fun to demonstrate the eclipse with an orange and sausage patty as shown in one of the photos

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Tags:  50at50  eclipse2017  parks  recreation 

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Wellness Resources

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 21, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017

Implementing a new wellness policy or program in your department can be extremely difficult. The NCRPA Wellness Initiative strives to make this process a bit easier. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a variety of different resources that I want to share with you all. This wellness blog will give you a few resources to implement wellness programs in your department.

  • NCRPA TRACK Trail Grants: NCRPA is partnering with Kids in Parks and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to offer TRACK Trail Grants! TRACK Trails provides signage and brochures to turn any trail into an interactive experience. Each TRACK Trail location is logged on an online map, giving people the opportunity to plan their trip in advance. Additionally, children are encouraged to TRACK their adventures online to receive prizes! To learn more about TRACK Trails and our TRACK Trail grants, watch a recording of our July Wellness Webinar. Click this link for the application.

  • Want to start a community garden? A grant opportunity is opening up in September from the Whole Kids Foundation. “The Extended Learning Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to a non-profit children’s programming organization, working with children ages K–12, to support an edible educational garden.” Click this link to learn more about this grant opportunity.

  • NRPA is developing a community and home gardening curriculum. According to NRPA, the curriculum provides “resources and activities that encourage hands on exploration with growing, cooking and tasting healthy produce, as well as creating sustainable year-round gardening systems.” Click this link to view the curriculums - a new topic is being added each month.

  • Having an outdoor event soon? The National Wildlife Federation has a cool opportunity! “The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) provides free native tree seedlings to NWF partners who in turn plant them through local restoration projects or community tree giveaway events. Tree giveaway events typically involve distributing seedlings to individuals that will plant the trees and care for them at home.” Click this link to learn more about the seedling opportunity and to become an NWF partner.

I hope that you will utilize the resources discussed in today’s blog! If you have any resources that you would like to share, please email me at

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  resources  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - August 18

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 18, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Sometimes you find a hidden gem without looking for it. That was the case with this week’s park. I recently made a trip to the central part of our state and took an exit to grab dinner. By missing a turn, I found Joe C. Davidson Park in Burlington. What a nice surprise to find a ‘new to me” park by accident.

Joe C. Davidson Park is one of the most recently developed parks within the system. Designed with its primary focus being youth sports, it has fields for soccer, softball, and baseball. There is a playground plus tennis and volleyball courts. I saw a number people out on the 3/4 mile walking track that encompasses the perimeter of the park. The was also a large picnic shelter sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.

Doing a quick Google search, I found out the park has its own Facebook page - although it is unofficial and not managed by the city. I enjoyed seeing posts from citizens who were out walking, playing with their dogs, and making recommendations on the playground and walking trails.

I chatted with Tony Laws, Burlington Parks and Recreation Director about the park and Joe Davidson. NCRPA has a plaque in our office with the names of our past presidents and I found Joe Davidson listed in 1963. Joe became the director in Burlington in the mid-late 50’s and served the department close to 40 years.

Opened in the early 1990’s, Joe C. Davidson Park is 42 acres and when it was built it was in a very rural area of town. Now it is only 0.8 miles from Alamance Crossings, the shopping center, right off of I-40 at the University Drive exit and there is an apartment complex across the street from the park.

There is a unique feature at the park, a water tower. This water tower was added after the park was built when the city needed an elevated location to add a tower that would increase the water pressure. With the addition of the tower, they lost the potential to enlarge an existing building that could have become a small community center. As part of the process, recreation & parks asked for the Burlington logo to be added to the tower and it now serves as a landmark for the park. I thought it was a nice icon in the middle of the park

For more information on Joe Davidson Park visit

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Burlington  parks  recreation 

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Solar Eclipse Safety

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 14, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017

Next Monday, August 21st, is the day of the Great American Eclipse! Luckily, North Carolina is a great state to watch the event. Today’s wellness blog will give you tips to safely view the eclipse, and a few ideas to get people out and active in your parks.  

If you remember from elementary school science class, a solar eclipse is when the moon moves in between the sun and the earth (Click this link for more information). This creates a stunning view and is sure to get people outside flocking to parks. The solar eclipse next week is a rare one with all 50 States being able to view the eclipse, and some areas (including a few counties in western NC) being able to see the event in 100% totality.

In North Carolina, all of our counties will be able to experience the eclipse with at least 75% totality.One great resource to map out how the eclipse will look in your town is Type in your zip code and the website will show you how much of the sun will be blocked out, what time the event will occur, how long it will last, and more.

The eclipse brings a great opportunity to our state, and particularly our parks. Weather permitting, people will want to get outside to view the event. Below are a few things for you and your department to consider for the event next week.

Viewing the sun safely is a huge concern during the eclipse. According to NASA, “It is never safe to look directly at the sun's rays – even if the sun is partly obscured. When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun, or use an alternate indirect method. This also applies during a total eclipse up until the time when the sun is completely and totally blocked.”  It is important to note that standard sunglasses are NOT eclipse glasses and will not give you the protection you need. Please take the appropriate precautions when viewing the eclipse, and encourage your community to as well. 


If you are planning on taking anyone (especially children) who are enrolled in your programs outside to experience the event, it is very important that they are taught to properly view the eclipse. As discussed earlier, viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear can be very dangerous.  Share educational resources and knowledge about not looking directly into the sun.  I would also recommend sharing safety information with the children's parents or guardians regarding the eclipse. Additionally, It’s a good idea to practice wearing approved eclipse glasses or viewing the event through a pinhole camera.

A great way to get people outside and active in your parks for the eclipse is to let the public know the great places to view the event. Find a place in one of your parks that has an un-obscured view of the sun. Great places could be over a lake, beach front, river, open field or a high elevation hill without total tree coverage are ideal! Places with a short hike or walk involved are a great way to get people active. Once a location is selected, take to social media to tell people the desired locations. In these social media posts, be sure to include information about safely viewing the eclipse.  


Additionally, if you purchased or are planning to purchase eclipse glasses, you need to make sure they are from a NASA approved vendor. A full list of reputable vendors of solar eclipse glasses can be found here. If it turns out that your eclipse glasses are not reputable, there is still time to purchase some! Try calling around to hardware stores, libraries, gas stations and big stores like Walmart or Toys R Us to see if they have any in stock. You also want to make sure your eclipse glasses are not scratched or damaged in any way. Even a small scratch or hole on the lenses can cause serious damage to your eyes. If planning on actually distributing glasses to your community, it may be a good idea to consult your legal department. 


If you do not have eclipse glasses to use and are not planning on purchasing any, there are still a few options that will allow you to safely view the event. One easy way is to make a pinhole camera out of paper, foil, and tape. This would also be a great craft to bring to your department. Set out supplies and instruct people on how to make their own viewer! Then, go outside and practice safe viewing techniques. When using this method, stand with your back to the sun. This craft could be set up a table in a park or facility on the eclipse day to ensure that everyone has the means to safely view the eclipse.

I hope that you have a fun and safe eclipse viewing experience! If you or your department are doing anything cool for the eclipse, I’d love to know about it! I’ll be camping in Bryson City, NC to see the eclipse in totality. Email me at with any cool eclipse program ideas! Hopefully, we get good weather throughout the state!

Until next time,


Tags:  NCRPA Wellness  safety  Wellness  youth safety 

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50 at 50 - August 11

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 11, 2017
Updated: Thursday, August 10, 2017
A short trip on I-40 led me to Chapel Hill for this week’s blog. The Town of Chapel HIll is 23.1 square miles and home to the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill has 16 parks providing about 1000 acres for active and passive recreation and preserved open space. I had the pleasure of visiting parks with Parks and Recreation Director Jim Orr and Assistant Director Linda Smith. In addition to the visit to Umstead Park, I got to explore Bolin Creek Greenway.

Umstead Park is 19.5 acres and was built in the 1970’s on land donated to the town by the Umstead Family. This park has several shelters, a playground, and three sand volleyball courts. While the town provided the land and equipment to get the volleyball courts started, a community volunteer coordinated the fundraising to build and maintain the courts. He also runs programs at the courts and donates the funds raised to maintain the courts with plans to construct three additional courts. That is a volunteer dedicated to volleyball in the community!

From Umstead Park, we were able to access Bolin Creek Trail. This trail runs along the creek and is just over 2 miles long. When completed, the trial will be about 3 miles. This trail is constructed of concrete and not asphalt as the creek is very close by and is prone to flooding and when it does, the water is usually raging. With concrete being heavier than asphalt, it was the better choice for this trail. I had never really thought about the difference between these two materials before and it was nice to learn something new.

Currently, the constructed greenway ends under a road crossing. Besides the artwork added by citizens, there were handholds from rock climbing added to the walls and ceiling of this underpass. These were not added by the department and I could only assume they were added by climbing enthusiasts in the area.

On the return trip to Umstead Park, I was impressed to see an access point from the street that included stairs on one side of the bridge and a paved ramp on the other side - making the greenway accessible not only to persons with varying physical abilities but also with various forms of transportation.

For more information on Umstead Park visit or Bolin Creek Greenway visit

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Tags:  #NCRecre8  50at50  Parks  Recreation 

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August is Family Fun Month!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, August 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I can’t believe it is already August! If you did not know, August is Family Fun Month. Family Fun can be a great way to incorporate fitness into your department. This wellness blog will give you five ways to incorporate fun and healthy family fitness programs into your department.

It is universally known that parents encourage behaviors in their children. According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.”

Family Fun Month is the perfect time to hold healthy family-friendly events in your community! Below are five ideas to celebrate Family Fun Month:

  1. Family Scavenger Hunt: One way to get families active and engaged in your parks is to create a family scavenger hunt! Write clues for 10 to 15 objects in your park or facility and print out a few copies of the objects. Families can then complete the scavenger hunt by taking photos of the objects. Once the hunt is completed, a small prize can be given out.

  2. Family Fun Night: Family fun nights are a great way to get the whole family engaged. When planning a family fun night, choose games that are appropriate for the whole family. Simple games like capture the flag and obstacle courses come to my mind. Most importantly, provide a safe space and opportunity for active family fun.  A past wellness blog post discussed family fun nights in depth.

  3. Parent/Children Athletic Camps: Does your department hold any athletic skill development clinics? If so, inviting parents to participate with their children is a great way to encourage family fitness. Staff members teach and oversee the drills, and parents help in facilitating to their children. This works especially well with younger children and allows the parents to get in on the activity.

  4. Family Cooking Courses: Family cooking courses can be used to introduce fun, easy and healthy recipes that are appropriate for the whole family. There are a lot of good resources online for finding family-friendly healthy recipes. Try Food Network or All Recipes for help.

  5. Family Walking Group: Walking groups are a different way to get families active. Start a walking group geared towards families! Children, teenagers, and parents can connect with each other while walking in safe and fun locations. The NCRPA Wellness Webinars have covered running and walking groups in the past. Check out recordings of these webinars for extra help!

I hope that this blog post has given you some ways to promote family fitness in your community! If your department has a great family fitness program, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to share!


Until next time,


Tags:  Family  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 - August 4

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 4, 2017
This week’s adventure took me to Mount Airy for their NRPA Park Champion event with Representative Virginia Foxx. The event was held at Riverside Park and was held in conjunction with their Hero Day at the Park. This event brought local city services, along with health and wellness information to the kids in their summer camp program. There were representatives from the fire department, police department, the city recycling program, the city landscaping services, the county health department and an obstacle course provided by parks and recreation. The activities were all educational in nature. Whether it was learning about the fire truck, ‘driving impaired’ through a course made of cones with the police department or learning the difference between muscle and fat. There was also fun built into the day with chalk drawing in the parking lot and running the obstacle course.

Representative Foxx was in attendance to see the importance of federal programs that help park and recreation agencies provide healthy meals and enrichment opportunities to children nationwide. In Mount Airy, the summer feeding program is offeredin conjunction with Mount Airy City Schools. To read more about the event check out this article in the Mount Airy News Mount Airy received a Commit to Health Grant from NRPA to implement and offer programs and services to their community. I had a chance to chat with Eric, the camp director when I arrived at the park, and he talked about how they are working to impart healthy habits through camp. I think the message is getting absorbed! He told me he’s noticed when they go to the pool and the kids have access to the vending machines to make their own choices, more of them are getting water instead of soft drinks or performance beverages.

Riverside Park was established in 1977 and was renovated in 2004 and 2009. The park is home to the skate park, basketball courts, playground, soccer field, open play space, shelters and a canoe launch. The park also serves as the trail head of the Ararat River Greenway, which goes 6.8 miles to Veteran’s Park. Along the greenway, three of the four city schools have access, and there are plans to add two more miles of greenway that will connect the fourth school. The greenway has also served as a connection for the business community. We had lunch at Chase & Charli which borders the greenway. They have created a paved path from the greenway to their business along with outdoor seating that overlooks the river and greenway. At one point, the Ararat River was on the ‘bad rivers list’, but through funding by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and programs with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, there is a section of the river designated for delayed harvest. It is nice to see the river turned into an asset for the community that not only provides enjoyment for the community but also serves as an economic driver through tourism and recreation.

To learn more about Riverside Park or the Ararat Greenway visit

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Tags:  50at50  Mount Airy  NRPA  parks  Recreation 

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