UNCW’s School of Health and Applied Human Sciences Collaborates with ECU for Community Health Initiative

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

UNCW’s School of Health and Applied Human Sciences has partnered with East Carolina University’s Department of Psychology, Green County Recreation and Greene County Schools to launch the Greene County Community Advancement Project. This interdisciplinary project offers local residents access to a safe space to be physically active, which has been a consistent barrier to physical activity and health in rural communities like Greene County, according to a 2017 community survey.

Collaborators developed a Kids in Parks TRACK trail, a family-friendly outdoor adventure trail at Greene County’s recreation complex. The project was funded through a grant from Resourceful Communities, specifically their Creating New Economies Fund. 
In addition to supporting outdoor activities for youth, SHAHS hopes this project will cultivate future stewards who understand the value of community parks and open spaces, as well as increase diversity and foster inclusivity in public land usage.
“Studies by the Outdoor Foundation have consistently found that participation in outdoor recreation is much lower among Hispanic and African American populations compared to Caucasians, regardless of age and income,” said Tamlyn Shields, lecturer in SHAHS. “The lack of diversity in public lands is cause for concern.”
The Kids in Parks TRACK trail also will have immediate direct and indirect impacts on the local economy, she noted. One of the project activities was to create mentorship relationships between four undergraduate ECU students and 16 at-risk youth over the course of the project. Mentors designed and implemented multiple activities and development experiences to enhance the children’s ability to contribute meaningfully to the economy as productive citizens in the future by inspiring them to reach for bigger goals.
The Recreation Sport Leadership and Tourism Management degree program in SHAHS also welcomed middle and high school students to UNCW earlier in November to interact with students and faculty and learn more about careers in outdoor recreation, land management and environmental education fields.
“Our hope is that these kids were inspired by their visit to UNCW to work hard in high school and get the most out of their education,” Shields said. “After engaging with their mentors from ECU and UNCW, as well as SHAHS faculty, we hope they now see college as a future possibility.”
-- Brea Perry ’20