At the start of the new year, the Collegedale Parks and Recreation Department is working to provide new programs as well as continue momentum from previous years.
The department has offerings for all ages, including new initiatives like hands-on sessions for kids like Wildlife Explorers, "an outdoor adventure group for exploring, having fun and learning along our greenway and in our local parks," and Outdoor Classroom, "an outdoor program to learn about science through exploration and discovery," according to Parks and Recreation Supervisor Christina Clark.
"I personally hope that we are able to encourage the community to get outside and enjoy all the benefits of nature and community," Clark said in an email to the Times Free Press. "Studies have shown that just 15 minutes a day spent outside and taking a walk can clear your head and boost your immune system and elevate your sense of well-being.
"And with the pandemic, it has been hard on both kids and adults mentally, so being able to provide a space for them to gather and socialize is important to us."
In the past two years, the department has had to adjust for COVID-19 but found ways to continue offering programming, much of which is based outdoors. According to Clark, events like Nerf Wars, Wizard School and a Fairytale Fall Ball were popular offerings that filled up quickly.
"The best feedback is from the children, and we've tried to capture some of the priceless reactions during our programs to share with others," she said. "From a young girl's admission of 'I can't believe you are real,' speaking of the Disney princesses, to the sweaty haired young boys' 'Can we do that again?' at Nerf Wars."
While Emily Culberson and her family are not residents of Collegedale, she said the programming has helped supplement her kids' homeschooling with science programing and fun family events, although they don't participate as often as they did prior to COVID-19.
"I appreciate that the Parks & Rec staff has taken time to get to know my kids and encourage their creativity," she said in an email. "My boys have each approached Emma [Witz, the department's programs specialist] and Christina with programming ideas, and not only do they listen, they enthusiastically work to make those ideas happen. I love their excitement about making Collegedale a more enjoyable place for everyone, whether they are residents or not."
Culberson also said she follows other local parks and recreation departments and would in the future "love to see Collegedale offer events that introduce skateboarding, mountain biking, foraging and archery for kids."
In the future, Clark said she would like to add more staff and one day have a physical Collegedale Community Center building.
"I hope that our Parks and Recreation Department is able to continue serving this wonderful community of [residents] in the city of Collegedale and surrounding areas," she said. "We will continue to encourage outdoor recreation, education, active lifestyles and focus on mental health with providing programs that bring socialization."
Those interested in participating in programs, can check schedules and sign up for events at collegedaleparksandrec.com.
Contact Tierra Hayes at email@example.com.
Regularly scheduled programs for 2022 include:
Board Game Club: A chance to play favorite family-friendly games and/or to learn new ones while socializing and making new friends.
Greenway Walker: A group that walks together along the Wolftever Creek Greenway.
Happy Hookers Yarn Club: A group that comes together to learn how to craft with yarn and socialize with other crafters. They work on making things for different charities throughout the year.
Preschool Playtime: A time to meet up with other kids and parents for guided movement and free play to build imagination, social skills and coordination.
Wildlife Explorers: An outdoor adventure group for exploring, having fun and learning along the greenway and in local parks.
Outdoor Classroom: An outdoor program to learn about science through exploration and discovery.
Swing Dance Social: For aspiring and seasoned swing dancers to learn and/or perfect their dance moves.
Flex & Fun: For those 50+ to get together for stretching and light exercises followed by fun, which includes games, crafts, field trips, guest speakers and more.