DOINews: NPS-Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Active Trails Program Advances Community Wellness

Last edited 09/05/2019

Visitors at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area's landscapes inspire Active Trails participants. Photo by Dawn Kish, NPS.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and several of its partners recently wrapped up a National Park Foundation Active Trails grant-funded program focused on improving overall community wellness by connecting local Native American youth and adults to the park through engagement in land- and water-based outdoor recreation activities.

Participants were introduced to the park's many recreational opportunities by taking part in four hiking, kayaking, and service learning events. At each event, public health educators engaged the group in activities focused on improving health and wellness, while park staff shed light on the park's vast natural and cultural resources.

The kickoff event took place along the readily accessible Hanging Garden trail. Park interpreters were on hand to discuss the wealth of outdoor recreation activities and natural and cultural resources that can be enjoyed in the park, while a health educator led an interactive activity on the benefits of water and the downfalls of energy drinks.

For the next event, participants took to the waterways for five days of exploring and learning along the San Juan River. Participants kayaked 58 miles and tested their cardiovascular fitness by hiking the Honaker Trail and Slickhorn Canyon. Park interpretive staff engaged participants in a journaling activity titled “Discovering a New Ecosystem,” while a health educator led discussions on the importance of skin and eye protection and proper nutrition and hydration when exploring the great outdoors.

For the third event, participants continued their canyon country experience by engaging in a two-day river rafting adventure along the Colorado River. Participants visited the Descending Sheep petroglyph panel and discussed the significance of rock art in the southwest. Project participants and health educators enjoyed an interactive activity focused on how the five food groups are the building blocks of a healthy diet. Participants also contributed to a USGS citizen science project that involved gathering data on insect populations along the Colorado River to better understand the areas aquatic food base.

For the grand finale, participants explored Wiregrass Canyon and beautified Lone Rock Beach by collecting trash along the shoreline. A health educator led group discussions and activities stressing the benefits of exercise and the importance of healthy bones.

This program successfully jump-started healthy lifestyle changes and provided a bridge between the local community and their park. Park staff would like to thank the following project partners who made this program a success – the National Park Foundation, Coconino County Public Health Services District, Grand Canyon Youth, Page High School Unity Club, and Glen Canyon Natural History Association.

By: Lonnie Pilkington, natural resource program manager, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, NPS

Jan. 13, 2014

This story appears in the Jan. 8, 2014, edition of InsideNPS.

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