North Raleigh News

Wake Forest urges families to get active this summer

The town is reminding families about a program that might help convince kids to step away from their televisions and enjoy the outdoors this summer.

Wake Forest takes part in the Kids in Parks program, an initiative that aims to promote children’s health and to foster a connection to nature.

E. Carroll Joyner Park on Harris Road is part of the Kids in Parks TRACK Trails program. The park offers a self-guided trail adventure for families.

Ruben Wall, director of parks and recreation in Wake Forest, said it’s important for kids to learn about nature.

“(The program) encourages families to explore nature together,” Wall said. “Specifically, it encourages our youth to learn and be active at the same time.”

There are also some other local TRACK Trails, including one in Umstead Park. Brochures help kids spot different species of animals, insects and plants. Children can then track their outdoor adventures and earn prizes.

Kids in Parks, an initiative of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, aims to decrease childhood obesity and to combat “nature deficity disorder.”

According to a 2009 report from Nielsen, children ages 2 through 8 spend a total of 60 hours a week watching television.

Wake Forest leaders are trying to urge families to unplug from technology, especially during the summer months.

E. Carroll Joyner Park, which spans 117 acres, includes sweeping meadows, paved trails, gardens and farm buildings.

Wake Forest bought the property in 2003. The farm used to be owned by the Walker family, who grew crops there in the 1940s.

Joyner later raised cattle on the land until the 1990s. He worked with town planners to develop the park.

Last year, Wake Forest voters approved $25 million in spending for parks, greenways and sidewalks. The town plans to build a community center, gym and playground at E. Carroll Joyner Park.

Jennifer Rall, urban forester coordinator for Wake Forest, said TRACK Trails is a fun way to get families outdoors.

“I really enjoy educating people, and I love working with kids,” she said. “It’s easy to get them excited about learning about nature, and when they’re excited the parents are excited too.”

Hendricks: 919-836-5755; Twitter: @ashleytalks_