Healthy Parks Healthy People program launch
Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Healthy Parks Healthy People program launch
Modern Day Mather Hike
NPS PHOTO

Quick Facts

GETTING READY FOR 2016:

A Call to Action
Action Item:
Take a Hike, Call Me in the Morning
Year Accomplished:
2013

Cuyahoga Valley National Park received funding through the Healthy Parks Healthy People fund to implement community recommendations to improve awareness of the park as a destination for physical activity. These recommendations were a result of the park's Modern-Day Mather Hike (MDMH), funded by the NPS Office of Health in Fall 2011. The event was highly successful due to constructive feedback from the diverse participants in the health and wellness community in Akron.  

The program allowed the park to hire seasonal park rangers to introduce opportunities for physical activity in the park at health and wellness community and organizational events in Akron. Through these activities, we introduced the park to under-served audiences and showed how the park can help people achieve individual health goals.  

We launched the pilot activities in Akron, building on partnerships established through the MDMH. We hope to expand to Cleveland in 2013 dependent on funding to build new partnerships with Cleveland's public health community.  

The project partners include the park's friends group, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Wellness Council of Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. The Wellness Council brings community health providers together to promote wellness and improved health outcomes in Akron. The park will utilize the relationships developed from the MDMH and the Wellness Council to assist with outreach to first-time and diverse visitors. Two seasonal park rangers were hired to attend community events, health fairs, race etc. in  Akron. They received great feedback from the audience for participating in the events. Many attendees were unaware of the park or had limited knowledgeable about the different services. A flyer was created and distributed at the events describing the different healthy options in the park.    

The rangers staffed a booth at the following events which represent a sample of the events they attended: Farmers' Market in Akron; Akron Walk for Autism; Summer Solstice Yoga; RideUNITED; Let's Move Summit County; Community Health Fair at Edgewood Village (low-incoming house development); Leap Frog Jog; Akron Marathon Expo; Leaders Rock the Lock (downtown Akron); Mobile Health Fair; NEO Roller Derby at Summit County Fairgrounds; RFP Multisport Fest; Walk from Obesity; Walk for Babies; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Walk to Stop Diabetes; Project Homeless; University of Akron Health Fair; various career and health fairs at Akron Public Schools.  

The park newspaper designed for first-time visitors with a health and wellness connection will be launched by summer of 2013.

The park also launched a pilot program with area church leaders with a free train ride through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Park Ranger Pam Machuga shared with 48 spiritual leaders about the different ways their faith-based communities can experience the national park with a focus on health and wellness. Based on the success and feedback of the train ride, September Fun Days were launched on two Sunday afternoons at one of the park shelters with adjacent large open space. Invitations were sent to spiritual leaders and their congregation in the Akron area. Roughly 225 people attended the event which included outdoor field games like volleyball, corn hole, old fashion games, and frisbee. Underground Railroad walks were offered featuring costumed characters sharing the experience of enslaved African Americans gaining their freedom.    

For more information about the Healthy Parks Healthy People program at CVNP contact Mary Pat Doorley at 440-546-5995 or mary_pat_doorley@nps.gov or Pamela Machuga at 330-657-1914 or pamela_machuga@nps.gov.