The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks Program has received a $701,000 Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNCF) to expand the program into North Carolina’s state, county, and municipal parks as well as launch a National Technical Training and Resource Center for Kids in Parks.
In 2008, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Blue Ridge Parkway partnered with BCBSNCF to form the Kids in Parks initiative. With the initial investment of $204,000 by BCBSNCF, the Kids in Parks program has been able to install nine TRACK Trails, bring more than 35 partners together (including multiple state, federal and local agencies), and link public lands to each other and to the kids and families of the surrounding communities.
Because of the overwhelming success of the pilot program to get kids and families outdoors and reconnected to nature, BCBSNCF is reinvesting in the Kids in Parks program with this $701,000 grant for the next three years. This grant will enable the Kids in Parks program to become a national model for the “no child left inside” movement, as well as expand the program across North Carolina and the nation.
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 community, their mission is to increase physical activity of children and their families, to improve nutritional choices, and to get kids outdoors and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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 that kids can use to connect more meaningfully with nature. Furthermore, for every adventure kids register through the website, http://www.kidsinparks.com/, they can earn Trail TRACKer Gear designed to make their next outdoor adventure more interactive and fun.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior, is the primary fundraiser and steward of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Foundation is a strong defender of the Parkway, funding projects that enhance and protect the natural, cultural, historic, and recreational qualities that make the Parkway an American treasure.