Nathan HamSports Writernham@jeffersonpost.com
August 22, 2012
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program has partnered with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association (NCRPA) to expand their network of TRACK Trails in Western North Carolina.
With grant funds provided by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, a total of 10 TRACK Trails will be installed in city / county parks across the WNC region in 2012, including Ashe County Park in Jefferson.
In April, NCRPA released a grant application, in partnership with Kids in Parks, so municipal parks in the region could apply for a TRACK Trail. Several parks departments from the western portion of the state applied for the grant and the grant committee had a hard time narrowing down the field.
One of those locations selected was the Ashe County Parks and Recreation. Ashe County Park is a beautiful little park in the Blue Ridge Mountains that has several baseball fields, three playgrounds, an 18-hole disc golf course, outdoor basketball court, skate park, a community garden and a fishing/swimming pond. The TRACK Trail will be superimposed upon the park’s Disc Golf Trail. The TRACK Trail will feature a series of self-guided, brochure-led adventures designed to help community members and visitors to the region connect with the natural, cultural and historical resources found along the trail.
“We are extremely excited to work with the NCRPA and their local park partners to expand our network of TRACK Trails in Western North Carolina,” said Jason Urroz, director of Kids in Parks. “The partnership not only gets the program into more communities within the region, but also helps to link these communities with our TRACK Trails in North Carolina’s State Parks and along the Blue Ridge Parkway… and vice-versa.”
Michelle Wells, executive director of the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, said, “We are happy that our partners at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation earmarked funds for NCRPA locations in local parks as part of their grant to the Kids in Parks program. These funds will allow agencies, like, Ashe County Parks & Recreation to be able to join the network of TRACK Trails, linking their communities to the park and other parks within the network. ”
Missy Parker, program manager of Ashe County Parks and Recreation Department, said of the opportunity to have their park join the network, “We are extremely excited about this program. We hope to attract new families to the park and further enhance the experience of those already visiting.”
Work on the NCRPA TRACK Trail locations will begin soon, with all 10 NCRPA TRACK Trail locations scheduled to open this fall.
For more information about the Kids in Parks program, please visit their website kidsinparks.com. Or, to stay up to date on the development of these trails, follow them on Facebook at Facebook/Kids in Parks.
About the Kids in Parks program:
The Kids in Parks Initiative is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. Working together with partners throughout the country, their mission is to promote children’s health and the health of parks by engaging families in outdoor adventures that increase physical activity and foster a meaningful connection to the natural and cultural world.
The Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program provides kids and families with a network of self-guided hiking trails. Every TRACK Trail has a series of brochures designed to turn an ordinary walk in the woods into a fun-filled adventure. Furthermore, for every adventure kids register through the Kids in Parks website, www.kidsinparks.com, they earn Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.