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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 20, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is almost here! With the holiday season upon us, it can be hard to keep up with normal healthy routines. This wellness blog will give you some tips to have a healthy holiday.


It would not be Thanksgiving without the delicious food! The big event of the day for many American families is gathering around the table and sharing an indulgent meal. While this one day of delicious food will likely be a part of your traditions forever, there are a few simple ways to make the day a bit healthier that will leave you feeling better at the end of the day.


1. Eat your vegetables:  Roasted vegetables can be a tasty and healthy Thanksgiving side dish! Instead of filling up on less healthy options, eat extra roasted vegetables instead. Not only will eating extra vegetables help you avoid less healthy options, but they can be a great source of nutrients.

2. Portion control is key: On Thanksgiving Day when all of the food looks so delicious, I sometimes find myself eating way more than I probably should. This results in me feeling terrible after the meal. To avoid this feeling, make sure you use appropriate portion control! This article has some easy guidelines to follow to make sure your feast is appropriately sized.  

3. Don’t skip meals: I must admit that in the past, Thanksgiving dinner was my only meal of the day. Although you may think that skipping breakfast will “leave more space” for dinner, it is an unhealthy game to play. Instead eat a light, healthy breakfast to start your day. Skipping breakfast (and meals in general) can lead to overeating later in the day.

4. Incorporate exercise into your day: If the weather is nice, Thanksgiving can be a great day to go for a relaxing walk outside. Gather your friends and family and make it a new tradition! Additionally on Black Friday, “#OptOutside”, get active and find time to explore one of your local parks.

5. Help clean-up after the meal: Although this tip is not the most fun, doing normal household chores can actually be a great way to burn calories! So between the food, family, and football, help clean up!


If your department is having a Thanksgiving celebration, try adopting some of these practices. You can still promote wellness in the workplace, while enjoying all that Thanksgiving has to offer. I hope you all have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!


Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  thanksgiving  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 17

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017
When I turned off Rocky River Road in Charlotte into Reedy Creek Park, I didn’t realize all the great things I was going to find on the inside.  The park and preserve are a combined 927 acres.  In the 125 acre park, I found athletic fields, shelters, a disc golf course, community garden, ponds, fishing piers, and a dog park.  One observation I had at the dog park was a gentleman with braces on both of his knees.  As he was watching his dog run and frolic with other dogs, I realized this might be the only opportunity for exercise for the dog.   

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve preserves habitat for 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles, and 12 species of amphibians and has 10 miles of hiking trails. 

At the end of the main road, I found myself at a T intersection, I went left and found the Carolina Panthers themed Play 60 challenge course which opened on October 11.  Represented by Cunningham Recreation, this is the10th GameTime Challenge Course in NC.  First created five years ago, this course is “NFL combine meets Ninja Warrior”.  The Challenge Course is an obstacle course that incorporates elements of an NFL Combine workout and the popular Ninja Warrior activities.  It also features a 40-yard dash with precision timing.  At the start, I found a ‘pep talk’ with recorded words of encouragement from various Carolina Panthers players.  In addition to having a timed 40-yard dash, there is a time-tracking element for completing the course.  Through the app available to participants, you can track and compare your times with others on this course or other GameTime Challenge Courses.  It was great to watch kids, both young and old, try multiple times to improve upon their times.

Upon returning to the T intersection, I headed towards the Nature Center.  Built in 1982, the center features live, native animals, an exhibit hall, a classroom, and a gift shop. Outside, there is a National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, and a demonstration compost area and nature play area.  While in the restroom, I discovered a unique publication - "The Reedy Creek Toilet Paper".  Taped to the mirror, it was a 1-page flyer about events and features all happening at the Nature Center. Talk about reaching a captive audience while washing your hands!

Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve have so many features to appeal to the many varied interests of citizens.  I was impressed with how well the active and passive components of the park were intertwined to provide enjoyable opportunities to everyone. For more information on Reedy Creek Park and the Nature Preserve and Center, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Carolina Panthers  GameTime  Lowes  Meckleburg County  nature  parks  recreation 

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Parks for Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recent NRPA “Park Pulse” survey found that three in five Americans would take up walking or jogging through local parks and trails if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor! This wellness blog will detail some of the findings, and share some ways for your department to get involved.

In the past few years, the idea of Park Prescriptions has been increasingly growing. Doctors are essentially prescribing their patients to go outside and get active, something that often involves using local park systems.  (to find out more about the Park Prescription model, please check out this website!) The findings of the survey indicate that the general public agrees with and is willing to accept this model.

Below, I’ve included some of the key findings from the Park Pulse survey, courtesy of NRPA:

  • Over 3 in 5 Americans (63 percent) would take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three Americans say they would work out at a local gym or rec center

  • Baby boomers are more likely than Gen Xers or millennials to take up walking or jogging through local parks, trails or around the neighborhood if they were advised to be more physically active by a doctor

  • One in three parents would ride a bicycle at a local park, trail or around the neighborhood versus one in four adults without a child in the home saying they would do the same

So how can your department tap into this movement? Try approaching your local physicians with some of the results of the survey! It does not have to be a full-blown park prescription program, but rather letting the medical professional that your facilities would be a great resource for their patients to use to exercise.

If your department is interested in establishing a partnership with medical professionals, here are a few tips to help:

  • Compile materials to distribute to medical professionals.

  • Get creative when looking for potential medical provider partners

    • Use the internet, phonebook, and word-of-mouth when finding medical providers to partner with.

    • University medical programs, local hospitals, and private practices can be potential partner

It is great to know that parks and recreation is being looked at as a potential solution to fight against the health afflictions that are affecting America. Through your programs and facilities, our field can make a big difference, and it’s great to know that others are realizing it too.

Until next time,


Tags:  Health and Wellness  Healthy Living  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 10

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 10, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2017
On a recent trip to Charlotte, I made a stop in Archdale and found Creekside Park. Not far from Interstate 85, I found a big park with amenities for most everyone. As I entered the park, there were ballfields, tennis courts and a senior center. A little farther down the road was the Randolph Community College's Archdale Center. Built in 1990 and expanded in 2006 to serve the changing needs of the northwest community of Randolph County, the center was extensively renovated in 2011. What a great partnership and nice option for students to take a study break in the park.

Along the road were picnic shelters and more fields. At the end of the road was the recreation center and playground. Periodically I saw that ‘basket on a pole’ that we know marks a disc golf course. It was great to see lots of kids enjoying the playground and several youth riding their bikes through the park.

There was one thing I was looking for and didn’t find - the Orienteering Course (this is your cue to LOL if you got that!). Based on their website, the course is 1.24 miles consisting of 12 control points, where an individual or group can test their navigation skills through diverse terrain. An alternate .57 mile course is also available which avoids the woods. Whether for leisure or competition, participants can race against the clock to locate the control points. All that is needed to complete the course is a compass, or a smartphone compass application, and the course map listing the distance and direction to each control point and showing their location relative to park features. This course was added to the park as an Eagle Scout Service Project.

When I returned to Raleigh, I realized why I didn’t find the course. I didn’t plan ahead by printing the map and packing the compass I found on the trail during my last hiking trip. Next time, I’ll be better prepared!

With about 103 acres, Creekside Park is the main recreation hub for the community and the recreation center houses all of the recreation offices. The park got started by a group called the Park Committee and became part of the city in 1979.  For more information on the park, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Archdale  parks  recreation 

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YPN Blog: November 2017

Posted By Joseph Keel, Siler City Parks and Recreation, Thursday, November 9, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From playing the game to leading the game

Parks and Recreation Professionals,

After graduating from Mars Hill University, I had one goal: to become a member of a professional parks and recreation agency.  After a month of interviewing, hard work and determination in finding the right fit for me, I accepted the Athletic Coordinator position with Aberdeen Parks and Recreation. It wasn’t long after being in Parks and Recreation that I decided I wanted to be a Parks and Recreation Director one day. With new career goals set, I took every advantage to learn the ins and outs of the Parks and Recreation field. I took leadership roles in the State Wide Athletics Committee (SWAC) and the NCRPA Athletics Directors Workshop (ADW). I worked closely with Aberdeen's Parks and Recreation Director to see what goes on outside of athletics. 

I attended sessions at NCRPA State Conference and ADW that directly correlated with my goal of being a Parks and Recreation Director. It was at these conferences where I heard this statement that stuck with me “You may have to go out, to go up.” Meaning I may have to leave Aberdeen to reach my goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director. I knew that was going to be tough, but if I ever wanted to accomplish my career goals, I had to be okay with this possibility. 

With excitement, I can say that I am now the Siler City Parks and Recreation Director. This new career path has its ups and downs though. I can tell you that it can be lonely at the top. I learned quickly that I’m not going to be everyone’s friend or make everyone happy. I am now the one who makes the big decisions that have multiple impacts. I am the one that is looked to for guidance. My phone rings every weekend and late at night with questions and concerns. I must be accessible 24 hours a day/ 7 days week, where before this wasn’t always the case.  

As an Athletic Coordinator, my primary focus was athletics. It was structured and ran like a well-oiled machine. As Parks and Recreation Director, my main focus is everything. I can’t focus on one aspect and allow others to fall by the way side. With athletics, I dealt primarily with a core group. Now I find myself in meetings and conversations with all different types of groups - all with different primary focus points. This career move was a huge jump in responsibility. I feel that this career move has matured me, not only as a park and recreation professional but as an individual.     

My advice for any parks and recreation professionals that may have a career goal of becoming a Parks and Recreation Director is to lean heavily on your supervisor. Let them know your career goals and ask them if you can take part in some of their day-to-day operations. This will let you really see what being a Parks and Recreation Director is all about. Attend conferences and learn as much as you can. Be okay with the statement “You may have to go out, to go up.” If you can do all these things and feel good about, it then GO FOR IT!!

Meet the Author

Joseph Keel was recruited in 2006 to Mars Hill University, where he became an everyday right-handed reliever out of the bullpen. He received his degree in Parks and Recreation Administration with a Minor in Business Administration in 2010. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA. After graduating, Joseph returned to the Carolina Mudcats, where he completed his internship the previous year. In July 2010, he took the Athletic Coordinator position for the Town of Aberdeen. Joseph was awarded the Young Professional Award by the NCRPA on September 15, 2016 at the Athletic Directors Workshop. In February 2017, Joseph accepted the Director of Parks and Recreation position with the Town of Siler City. Joseph enjoys playing golf, spending time at the beach, helping others and serving his church.

Joseph can be reached at or (919) 742-2699

If you are interested in being a guest author for the YPN Blog, please contact Nicole at or 919-832-5868.

Tags:  involvement  professional development  young professionals  ypn 

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November is American Diabetes Month

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, November 6, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I can’t believe that it is already November! If you did not know, November is American Diabetes Month, as designated by the American Diabetes Association. This wellness blog will give some brief background of diabetes and the links to physical activity and healthy nutrition, and give your department a few ideas to implement programming to help combat against it.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease”. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Different factors, including genetics and some viruses, may contribute to type 1 diabetes. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.”

The other type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic “More common in adults, type 2 diabetes increasingly affects children as childhood obesity increases. There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but you may be able to manage the condition by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar well, you also may need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.” There is also evidence that type 2 diabetes

It may be shocking, but one in 11 Americans are living with diabetes.While the risk factors and cause of type 1 diabetes are not conclusive, there are a number of associations between type 2 diabetes and inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and high blood pressure. This is where your department programming can come into play.

Some departments offer healthy cooking and nutrition courses based on the special needs of different ailments. If your department has the capacity to offer cooking courses, try offering a diabetes nutrition course! This could be a multi-week course, or even a one time only special program. Check out this webpage for some quick meals for people with diabetes. Additionally, the American Diabetes Association offers a cookbook with easy meals, grocery lists, and nutritional information.

For both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, physical activity is extremely important. Exercises courses geared towards individuals living with diabetes could be an option! As with offering exercise programs for anyone, there are a few precautions to take. First, exercise and physical activity can lower blood sugar in individuals with diabetes. If your department is offering exercise, follow the guidelines detailed at this link.

Additionally, go over these 11 injury free exercise tips from the American Diabetes Association to help ensure that your participants are being safe.

Lastly, check out this page to see how your department can get involved in American Diabetes Month.

Until next time,

Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | November 3

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, October 30, 2017
On a recent return trip from a meeting, I drove past Anderson Community Park located off of Highway 54 in Carrboro. This 55-acre park features baseball and softball fields, basketball, sand volleyball and tennis courts, horseshoe pits, disc golf course, dog park, fishing pond, a half-mile walking trail, and playground, along with shelters and open space.

I arrived at the park mid-afternoon and set out to explore. My first stop was the dog park where I saw a few citizens and their 4-legged friends enjoying the enclosed space. My next stop was the walking trail near the fishing pond. According to the sign posted by the NC Wildlife Commission, you can expect to catch Channel Catfish. It is always great to see partnerships between parks and recreation and other state and federal organizations to provide services to the community. While at the lake, which is very close to the highway, I didn’t notice the road noise due to a buffer of trees and the fountain in the lake. While an aesthetically pleasing feature, and it helped buffer the sound, I’m guessing the fountain also serves other purposes.

It is always interesting to see families together when I am at a park. On this visit, a father along with what I assume were his son and daughter came up to the basketball courts to shoot some hoops. While the son was doing most of the shooting, the daughter was doing cartwheels and entertaining herself. Occasionally she stopped to shoot a basket or rebound and then it was back to the cartwheels. I also got to view an ultimate frisbee practice taking place where the kids were learning different techniques or doing conditioning drills.

One thing that caught my eye was a sign listing all the rules. Most every park has them that lists the “don’t dos” while you are in the park. But what I loved about this sign was the last statement. It read, “This park is your park, please assist in the effort to maintain a safe, clean environment for your enjoyment”. Wow! What a nice way to end a list of rules with a positive statement and reminder that this “your park”!

If you find yourself in the Carrboro area, swing by Anderson Community Park and check it out for yourself. You can find more information online at

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Tags:  50at50  Carrboro  parks  recreation 

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Last Minute Halloween Safety Tips!

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 30, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Halloween is tomorrow! A big part of wellness is promoting safety in our communities. This wellness blog will give your department some quick tips and best practices to promote in advance to the big day tomorrow.

According to, “On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” Dark clothing, coupled with dark road conditions and heavy foot traffic on the streets can make trick-or-treating a dangerous affair.

While trick-or-treating in your community may not be happening in park and recreation facilities, your department can still help spread tips and best practices to help ensure safety. Below, I’ve compiled a list of quick Halloween safety tips from the National Safety Council, Safe Kid’s Worldwide, and the CDC for both trick-or-treaters and motorists:

  • Teach your children to never enter a stranger's home or car

  • Tell your children not to eat any treats until they return home

  • If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks

  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs

  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully

  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you

  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house.

  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

There are some simple ways that your department can help spread these tips to your community! First, use your social media platforms to share some of these best practices. Post a list of Halloween safety tips that apply to your community!

Additionally, if your department has any out of school time programs, use the time leading up to Halloween night to help educate your participants. Print handouts of these Halloween Tips to send home with the kids!  Activities like this word scramble would be great to do to drive some of these safety tips home!

I hope that you have a great Halloween!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  safety  Youth Safety 

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50 at 50 | October 27

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 27, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 26, 2017
I love camping and last weekend I found myself on a camping trip to Staunton River State Park in Virginia about 25 miles from the NC border. One of Virginia’s original state parks it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and opened in 1936. In 1952, with the completion of the John H. Kerr Dam and the formation of Buggs Island Lake, part of the park was flooded. With 2,400-acres, the park offers woodlands, meadows, and shoreline along the Dan and Staunton rivers. The park also has Olympic-sized and wading pools, picnic shelters, three playgrounds, tennis and volleyball courts, several boat launches and more than 17 miles of multi-use trails. Buggs Island Lake, offers freshwater fishing and boating, along with water skiing and many other aquatic activities. Most of my time was spent in the campground or out on the trails.

In the campground, it was very dark at night. The only light provided was a dim light outside of the bathhouse. When you looked around, there were not many lights at all. And there is a unique reason for this. The park is the first state park in Virginia to be designated an International Dark Sky Park and is ideal for stargazing. The park management became aware of the appeal of the site’s naturally dark nighttime character and began welcoming visitors to take advantage of viewing its dark night skies. In addition to park staff offering associated interpretive programs and rents telescopes, they also host the Staunton River Star Party.

The Star Party was taking place while I was there and on Saturday night they invited the community to join them and look through their telescopes. What does it mean to attend a Star Party? Phones, flashlights, and headlights had to be covered with a red film to limit light pollution. We walked to the viewing field from the campground. I was glad I had seen the area in the daylight because even using a red light made seeing where I was going a bit of a challenge.

Once inside the observation area, The hosts were very friendly and provided educational information about what we were viewing and what was needed to get started in this hobby.
When your eyes adjust to being outside in an area where there is very limited light pollution, you can see so many more stars. It was inspiring to look at the stars. We just missed seeing Saturn when we arrived. The next Staunton River Star Party is March 14-18, 2018.

In addition to hiking and stargazing, there was time spent in the hammock, by the campfire, telling stories and enjoying good food and time with friends! Not a bad way to send a weekend.

For more information on Staunton River State Park visit and for the Staunton River Star Party visit

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Tags:  50at50  Parks  Recreation  stargazing 

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10-minute Walk Campaign

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 23, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NRPA is partnering with The Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute on a nationwide 10-Minute Walk Campaign. The goal of this campaign is to ensure that each person in every US city has a park within a 10-minute walk.

According to NRPA, one and three Americans do not have a park within a 10-minute walk. That’s a number totaling more than 100 million people! The 10-minute Walk campaign aims to change this alarming statistic.

The 10-minute Walk campaign is the start of a multi-year partnership between cities and mayors across America to increase access to parks. According to NRPA, “Beginning in 2018, the campaign partners will be working with cities across the country on measurable policies and strategies to advance the 10-minute walk vision.”

A 10-minute walk to a park is important for a variety of reasons. First, the health and wellness benefits of park access are overwhelming. Research shows that walking for 30 minutes per day reduces the risk for depression, heart disease, obesity, and osteoporosis. Additionally, people living within a 10-minute walk of a park are more likely to participate in physical activity, and have lower rates of obesity. For more information on the health benefits of walking in local parks, check out this video!

In addition to the health benefits associated with parks, NRPA cites a number of other reasons that demonstrate the importance of having access to parks. Click here to view the research behind these benefits!

Interested in getting involved in the 10-minute Walk Campaign? Click this link to see all of the cities that have already signed up. As of now, Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro have entered the commitment. One way to support the campaign is by thanking mayors and sharing the campaign in your cities. Some ways to do this include:

  • Thank participating mayors for making parks a priority

  • Ask new mayors to publicly endorse the campaign

  • Share the 10-minute walk vision with your professional and personal network

Also, share some of these promotional materials to educate your community about the campaign, and to generate more interest in walking efforts.

You can also personally sign up to support this effort at this website. Encourage interested citizens, elected officials, and media members to also sign up.

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  walking  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | October 20

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 20, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017
This week I headed to a meeting in Sneads Ferry and if you don’t know where that is, get out your NC map, look toward the coast and you’ll find it just inland from Surf City and that is the site of this week’s new to me park visit. Soundside Park is aptly named as it sits along the sound’s edge overlooking the Intracoastal waterway. There is a lot happening in this small space with fishing piers, boat ramp, picnic shelters, boardwalk with educational displays, chairs around the boardwalk for watching the world go by, amphitheater and playground. The playground at the park was funded by the Surf City Town Council along with the former Volunteer Surf City EMS Squad. This is the first time I’ve seen a “climbing fish” as part of the playground, and it was very impressive.

While I was there, I saw a number of trucks pulling boats heading to the boat ramp. There were children playing on the playground and what appeared to be a grandfather and grandson walking along the boardwalk. A sign at the entrance to a section of the boardwalk caught my eye. It was a hiking icon with the initials MST. I had found a portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail. The park is also the site of the Surf City Summer Market with arts, crafts and produce each Tuesday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The day of my visit had near-perfect weather, and the only complaint I have about my visit is that it wasn’t long enough. I could have spent the rest of my day there watching boats go by and the bridge swing open and close to accommodate waterway traffic.

If you make your way to Surf City or Topsail, add a stop to Soundside Park to your agenda. For more information on Soundside Park or to view their slideshow visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  recreation  Surf City 

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Halloween Health

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 16, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Halloween is right around the corner! With all of the candy and sweet treats associated with the holiday, it can be hard to create healthy Halloween programming. This wellness blog will give your department a few ideas to incorporate healthy ideas into your Halloween programmings.

Trick-or-Treaters are normally expecting candy, but they may be just as happy with other fun Halloween related giveaways. Websites like Oriental Trading are great places to find non-candy alternatives to hand out at your Halloween events. Giveaway items like kites, balls, and frisbees would be great ways to get kids outside and active while still getting in the Halloween spirit.

If your department is handing out candy there are a few policies you can enact. Limiting the amount given to a few pieces per person. Mixing candy with non-candy giveaways could also be a good tactic. Additionally, candy selection can be vital. This website has listed calories, sugar (G), and fat (G) of popular Halloween candy. Some selections are better than others!

Halloween can be a surprisingly effective way to get people outside and walking. If you think about it, the act of trick-or-treating does a great job of promoting walking! This could be a great way for your department to encourage people to come out to your facilities, walk around in their costumes, and collect goodies.

If your department has a greenway, trail system, or walkable park, try setting up a Halloween event! Set up stations along a designated path with different Halloween crafts, trick-or-treat goodies, and activities.

To promote health and wellness, one station could “spooky” exercises like “Frankenstein Walks” and more contained in this website. Another station could include recipe cards for healthier Halloween treats.

For adults and children, Halloween themed 5k runs/walks, haunted trails, and more could be good options. Create a fun environment by allowing people to come to these events dressed in their costumes, and provide a safe place for them to run/walk.

Last year, the wellness initiative wrote about the idea of Halloween candy buy-back programs. Dentist offices have been doing these types of programs for a while and could be a great partnership for your department. Check out this link to check out our Halloween themed post from 2016.  

I hope this helps you in planning your Halloween events for this year and in the future!

Until next time,


Tags:  Healthy Living  NCRPA Wellness  wellness 

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50 at 50 | October 13

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 13, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 12, 2017

Earlier this week, I headed out for a park that I often see in online reviews and social media posts - Knightdale’s Station Park. All the information I had seen focused on the playground area that has a train/farm theme. Well, I was surprised when I made a right turn into the park. It was so much more than the play area I had been exposed to online.

In 2011 the town had the opportunity to purchase a former nursery in downtown Knightdale and plans for Knightdale Station were set in motion. Opened in September 2013, the 76-acre park offers two miles of paved trails through groves of trees and along a boardwalk on a pond, the town’s first dog park, athletic fields, and a playground. The farm and train-themed play area is a reminder of Knightdale’s railroad and agricultural past. There’s a train with tunnel and slides, a working railroad crossing with lights and bells, a 2-story silo, a play chicken coop, a corral of bouncy horses, a cow to climb on and lots to inspire the imagination. Phase II is underway with tennis courts, an amphitheater, farmers market, and arboretum. 

I loved the train depot feel in the design of the shelters that are used for the farmers market and other outdoor events. Even though it was a cloudy day and had recently rained, the playground was full of kids representing a plethora of ages. And three furry friends were getting their play on in the dog park. As a walker, I liked that the greenway in the park was not just a loop around the perimeter but meandered through the park and gave a walker multiple options to craft their own walking experience.

If you are traveling on Hwy 264 or Interstate 540 in eastern Wake County, I recommend a quick detour to see Knightdale Station Park for yourself. For more information on the park visit

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Tags:  50at50  knightdale  parks  recreation 

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NRPA Instructor Training Grants

Posted By Diquan Edmonds, North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, Monday, October 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2017

NRPA is partnering with the CDC to offer grants to help improve healthy aging in your departments.This wellness blog will detail the three different grant opportunities that are being offered, and provide information on how to apply.

According to the NRPA grant application, “NRPA is seeking local park and recreation agencies to join efforts to increase the availability, participation, and sustainable support for programs that positively impact chronic disease management, increases in physical activity, and the quality of life for individuals.” It is worth noting that each of the grant opportunities that will be discussed in this wellness blog are for instructor training.

The first instructor training grant that NRPA and the CDC are providing help in delivering Walk with Ease programs. Walk with Ease is an evidence-based walking program geared towards older adults with arthritis. It is a low-impact six-week program, that offers structured walks and provides information to participants. The program helps to teach people how to safely and comfortably incorporate physical activity into their everyday lifestyle. There are 175 instructor grants available for this opportunity, with a maximum of two grants awarded per department.

The second instructor training grant opportunity is for the Active Living Every Day program. Active Living Every Day is a 12-week program that that teaches sedentary people the skills necessary to overcome barriers to physical activity. According to their website, “Active Living Every Day (ALED) uses facilitated group-based problem-solving methods to integrate physical activity into everyday living.” There are 50 of these grants available through NRPA, with each a maximum of two grants awarded per department.

Lastly, Fit & Strong is the third instructor training grant being offered. Fit & Strong is a physical activity and behavioral-change 8 or 12-week program that teaches sedentary adults with joint pain and stiffness how to engage in safe and effective exercise. This program has “has demonstrated significant functional and physical activity improvements in this population.” 50 Fit & Strong grants will be awarded by NRPA, with a limit of two grants per department.

All three of these grants would be a great way for your department to encourage healthy aging through your programs. These programs are all evidenced based interventions and endorsed by NRPA. Additionally, all of the instructor training will be conducted online!

To find out which one(s) of these programs would be appropriate to incorporate in your department, use this program assessment tool provided by NRPA. Then, apply for the programs at this link. There are already a handful of departments in North Carolina who have implemented one or more of these programs and I’d love to see even more!

Until next time,

Tags:  funding  grants  money  ncrpa wellness  Wellness 

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50 at 50 | October 6

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, October 6, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 5, 2017
Last week, I was New Orleans for the NRPA Conference, along with about 7000 park and recreation professionals, students and educators and that doesn’t include all the vendors in the exhibit hall. One of my goals while there was to find a park for this week’s blog. I just didn’t know how easy that task was going to be. I walked past the park and stopped to take my first picture before arriving at the front door of my hotel. The view from my room overlooked the park, so I got to watch it early morning and late evenings as well.

What made me stop and take my first picture was a sculpture outside the park entrance. It was a tree with a house up in the branches. I had found the Mississippi River Heritage Park. A park honoring the people and remembering the events that occurred on August 29, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina. This park is 1.36 acres and is directly across the street from the convention center. Surrounded by wrought iron fencing with six gates and entrances, the park serves the historic warehouse district and provides a beautiful respite for convention center visitors. It is the site of corporate and convention events, concerts, filming as well and serving as a wedding venue.

I made it a habit to walk through or around this park every day at different times of the day to see what happens there. I saw a lady throwing a ball with her dog, conference attendees enjoying the sunshine and filming video for a work project. I saw people just being quiet and enjoying some outside time. On one of my visits, I saw two Public Safety Rangers and stopped to chat with them. The signs at the entrance gates clearly state the park gates are locked at night - and they were when I checked so I wanted to know who was responsible for the task of opening and closing the park. They told me the task is shared jointly between the Public Safety Rangers and the security staff at the convention center.

Although NRPA did not hold an event at this park, I can see where it would be a great location to have an outside social if you were meeting at the convention center. Something that appealed to me about this park were amenities like benches and flower gardens outside of the locked gates so even after hours, you could enjoy the area.

For more information on the Mississippi River Heritage Park visit

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Tags:  #NOLA  #NRPAConference #NCRecre  50at50 

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