In 2022, Diabetes Free SC (DFSC) partnered with Kids in Parks* to expand the program in South Carolina. The award-winning program works with park partners to convert trails into TRACK Trails. The updated trails offer free, self-guided quests to make hiking more fun for the whole family.
The four-year grant, which is funded by the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation to support the goals of DFSC, will allow Kids in Parks to grow the program in our state. Each county in South Carolina will have three TRACK Trails by 2026.
Teddi Garrick, the South Carolina program manager for Kids in Parks, shares a bit more about the program.
What is Kids in Parks?
Kids in Parks is a network of family-friendly trails. They are made to get kids and families outside and in touch with nature. Kids in Parks takes existing trails and turns them into memorable outdoor experiences. Children their families in the adventures.
Families can explore with nature hide-and-seek. They can learn about trees and exercise like animals. They can even find and learn about bugs! The best part is children can log their completed TRACK Trails online at www.KidsinParks.org* and get prizes in the mail. The goal is to encourage them to keep adventuring.
Why is it important that children get outside for physical activity?
Children are more plugged in to screens and less plugged in to nature than ever before. A recent study found that kids spend an average of 7.65 hours a day in front of a screen. But they only spend an average of seven minutes outside playing. For children, time spent outdoors increases physical, mental and social health. It also is an indicator for future health.
Data shows being outside is good for children. It leads to:
- Increased brain activity.
- Higher SAT scores.
- Decreases in bullying, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.
- Lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and other physical and mental ailments.
How is Diabetes Free SC working with Kids in Parks?
Thanks to the support from DFSC through the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, every county in South Carolina will have three TRACK Trails. No matter where someone lives in the state, he or she will have access to a TRACK Trail close to home.
Kids and families can explore nature in their own backyard. They can get outside and connect in a safe, accessible and fun way.
Can the whole family take part in these adventures?
TRACK Trail materials are geared toward children. But we know kids don’t adventure alone. The program serves novice and expert explorers alike. By getting everyone outside together, families can connect with the outdoors and each other at the same time.
How does Kids in Parks work with health providers to get kids to be more active?
TRACK Rx is a program that allows doctors, nurses and other health care workers to write prescriptions for children to spend time outside. Kids in Parks works with providers to take a holistic approach to care. Children are more likely to spend time in nature. Thanks to the support from DFSC, Kids in Parks can give TRACK Rx materials to providers at 100 locations across the state.
What does the future look like for Kids in Parks?
There will be more than 150 TRACK Trails at the end of the four-year expansion across South Carolina. TRACK Trails will be in city, county, state and national parks.
The vision is that Kids in Parks becomes part of family culture around time spent outdoors. Going to the beach for a weekend? Check out the website and find a TRACK Trail to do on vacation! Going on a road trip to grandma’s house? Break up the drive with a TRACK Trail halfway. Got a Saturday morning free for an adventure? Pick out a TRACK Trail on the Kids in Parks website* and make a day trip out of it.
We hope the children who visit TRACK Trails grow up to be adults who love nature, the outdoors and being active with their loved ones.
The BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.