A new and national solution to help counter the declining connection between kids and the outdoors was announced at last week’s America’s Summit on National Parks in Washington DC.
Carolyn Ward, executive director of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, broke the news that a recent $701,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) would fund nationwide expansion of the Parkway Foundation’s TRACK Trail program.
Jason Urroz, Parkway Foundation project director for the Kids in Parks program, calls the paths ”interpretive trails for kids and families that are easily adaptable to various locations and settings across the country.”
The program got its start along the Parkway in 2008 with an initial investment of $204,000 from the BCBSNC Foundation. The effort caught fire with local communities and, to date, nine of the enticing trails have been installed in three states boasting more than 39 partner organizations and ten funding sources.
Thirteen percent of TRACK Trail hikers have so far visited more than one TRACK Trail and more than 13,000 miles have been hiked. The mission was “to increase physical activity of children and their families, to improve nutritional choices, and to get kids outdoors and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
But the ease of duplicating the concept in many settings is quickly spreading excitement for the idea. Part of the beauty of the TRACK Trail concept is that it can be “overlaid” onto many nature type trails in city, county,…
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