-CONNECT SENIORS TO NATURE-
Visiting NC State Parks is a great way to "get outside and get out of town."
Ready Set Walk
Snow Hill, NC
Don’t let old age discourage you from being active. The Ready Set Walk club certainly doesn’t! The club engages seniors of Snow Hill, NC in a low impact, outdoor physical activity: walking. For 10 years, the club has led seniors on weekly walks. This year, Ready Set Walk decided to spice things up by going on day trips to state parks.
The Ready Set Walk club visited three state parks in eastern North Carolina. The NC State Park system has more than 50 state parks, and all state parks offer opportunities for hiking, picnicking and nature study. This made it easy to plan park visits that could be done in less than a day. During the visit, all seniors were encouraged to walk at least half a mile on the trails.
The NC State Park website provides detailed information for each park. You can find information on the length of trails, description of the hikes, including how easy or difficult a walk will be, and the surface type of trails (pavement, boardwalk, or natural). This is especially important for people with mobility issues. When planning trips, Ready Set Walk ensured that both experienced and beginning walkers had options and that trails could accommodate all walkers.
Taking seniors to state parks, even for just a short day trip, provided them with a change in scenery. It also exposed them to nature, which helps restore their mind, body, and spirit, and provided opportunities for seniors to connect with peers.
Some things to think about when taking seniors to state parks:
Safety is everything. Visit or contact the state park you intend to visit beforehand. The NC State Park website provides detailed descriptions of the trails at each state park. Speak with a park ranger before your trip. They know the trails best, so they can guide you or help you find the trail(s) that will be best suited to your group. When you pick your routes, keep your less experienced walkers in mind. Make them feel encouraged so that they have a good time, especially if this is their first time.
Budget. These trips don’t have to cost a lot -- Ready Set Walk managed with a few hundred dollars! Transportation is usually the biggest cost. Share travel expenses, such as food and gas, by partnering with your local Senior Center, church or existing groups with similar interest. Packing your own meal can also save you a lot of money.
Beyond Walking. Walking is just one of the many outdoor activities you can do. State parks offer other things besides trails. When you pick your activity, just make sure that it is enjoyable and won't overwhelm or exhaust seniors.
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