Get Inspired. Give KIP a buck

Kids outdoors — it just makes sense.

Giving money to a good cause is good. Giving someone else’s money to a good cause is even better.

The good cause: Kids in Parks, an initiative by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and the Blue Ridge Parkway to get kids and families outside more. (I know, every time I read that — or write it — I think, “Why do we even need to think of ways to get kids outdoors? Shouldn’t we be having to think of ways to lure them back in?” Alas, this is not the case, as Richard “Last Child in the Woods” Louv has clearly demonstrated. Hence, the need for efforts such as Kids in Parks, which among other things aims to makes the outdoors too tantalizing for a tike to pass up. More on that in a moment.

The someone else’s money: That would be the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation through its new Inspired program. “Every day, North Carolinians are rolling up their sleeves and making a difference in their communities and the state as a whole,” says BCBSNC Foundation president Kathy Higgins. “They’re improving the health of children, families and communities that don’t have the resources to bring about change on their own. … We are inspired by the stories of these amazing North Carolinians – we think you will be, too.”

So inspired that the Foundation has identified nine especially inspiring organizations and is giving them $100,000. Or rather, you’re giving the $100,000 for the Foundation. Here’s how it works: Go to, click on “Stories,” then click on “On the Right Track,” which takes you to the story of Kids in Parks and one particularly tree-loving 4-year-old. Then, share this story via Facebook, Twitter or email by simply pushing the appropriate, provided button, and Kids in Parks automatically gets a dollar.

Why is Kids in Parks deserving?

KIP’s TRACK program, described by the organization as Dora the Explorer meets geocaching, is a smart way of luring kids — and their parents — outdoors. Currently, there are nine TRACK Trails in existence, including five in North Carolina (three are in Virginia and one is out there by its lonesome in the Black Hills of South Dakota). Go to any one of these trails and you’ll find a series of brochures to help enhance your adventure. At KIP’s flagship trail at the Asheville Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, for instance, there’s a Hide & Seek brochure pointing out stuff you might otherwise overlook on the trail, there’s a tree brochure, a fern brochure, a fall foliage brochure, a “Buds Become Blossoms” brochure — basically, guides specific to this 1.5-mile loop trail that will make the hike more meaningful, more like a treasure hunt. When you get home, go to the Kids in Parks Web site and register your hike. Warning: there will be a test (“What did you like best about the hike?” “What one thing would you change to make the trail better?” “What was the main message of the brochure you read?”)

It’s worth it though, because after you register your first hike, you earn a free TRACK bandana. Two trails scores you a nature journal and with No. 3 you get a TRACK sac!

Since its inception in August 2009, more than 1,200 kids have participated in the TRACK program through guided hikes. The plan, over the next three years, is to add 75 new TRACK Trails and get at least 180,000 kids into the woods.

That’s an ambitious goal, and every dollar will count.

Like the one you’ll send KIP’s way when you push that button.

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