The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday August 15th

How Chapel Hill and Carrboro are celebrating National Parks and Recreation Month

Marsaline Judd plays on the playground at Southern Community Park on July 6, 2022.
Buy Photos Marsaline Judd plays on the playground at Southern Community Park on July 6, 2022.

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Chapel Hill and Carrboro are celebrating with a variety of events. 

The National Recreation and Park Association declared this year’s theme “We Rise Up for Parks and Recreation,” highlighting the importance of rising up to support professionals in the field. 

Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Marketing and Sponsorship Manager Wes Tilghman said it is important to celebrate parks and recreation, because it is an essential service not only in Chapel Hill and Carrboro but in communities across the nation.

Tilghman said that he is looking forward to this year's events, as many were held virtually over the last two years.

"It's a known fact that parks and recreation help people be more active and provides for great wellbeing, and it's a great opportunity to engage with others in your community with like-minded interests," he said.

Cameron Levis, author and special populations coordinator for the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department in Kentucky, held a story hour and book signing on Wednesday.

Levis read his new book, “Home Is Where Your Park Is.” The book tells the story of a young boy and an older man who befriend each other and design their perfect park.

Levis is a self-proclaimed "parks and rec kid." He said his relationship with his late grandfather, who was a recreation professor at Western Kentucky University, inspired the story.

"It's kind of a family thing for me," he said. "We've all been parks and rec professionals, and we just love parks."

The story hour event included hands-on activities for children and a question and answer session. Guests were also able to purchase their own signed copy of Levis’ book. 

Later this month, Community members will have the opportunity to take a tour of Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation facilities. On Sunday, July 17, the tour will depart from Homestead Park at 1:30 p.m. and return at 4:30 p.m. 

During the tour, Town Council and Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission members will provide information about local amenities and facilities. Those interested in attending can RSVP here.

"Every year, it's really about recognizing the important role that parks and recreation plays in everyone's lives," Tilghman said. "Many of us don't always realize that when we're outside at a park or on a playing field or even just having fun on playgrounds, but they do provide all types of different benefits to the community."

In April, Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation released an interactive virtual map that outlines local parks, open spaces and greenways. The map includes spaces owned and maintained by UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the North Carolina Botanical Gardens. 

Tilghman said the map is a great resource for people to know about, especially if they are not familiar with all of the open and green spaces available to them.

Community members are also encouraged to use the hashtag #RiseUpJuly to share their own experiences with Parks and Recreation. 

Throughout the month, the Town of Chapel Hill will use its Facebook page to highlight the people that help run Parks and Recreation.

Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Atuya Cornwell said the social media campaign will give staff members and volunteers the ability to provide a few sentences about how long they’ve been in the field, their favorite programs and memorable moments they have experienced in their profession.

Cornwell said parks and recreation has been impactful in his own life, as he learned to play basketball and tee-ball through parks and recreation programs as a child.

He also noted that this year's theme puts a well-deserved spotlight on professionals in the field.

"We're really fortunate when it comes to our park operations team, the ones who are on a daily basis taking care of those parks and those trails, but also on our recreation and our programming side," Cornwell said. "Often we have the opportunity to really connect not just youth, but adults to some of their first exposure to recreational opportunities."

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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