EAST ROCKINGHAM – Walking, a simple, but important task, is now more readily available for local seniors and community members.
The East Rockingham Senior Center welcomed and celebrated new signs, water fountains, benches and an updated walking trail with a ribbon cutting in its backyard on Tuesday at noon.
After lunch at the center, which doubles as a meal site, seniors made their way over to East Rockingham Park for the grand reveal of the new ammenities.
Jacqueline Welch, Executive Director of Richmond County’s Aging Services, opened the ceremony with greetings, introductions, and special thanks to community partners who helped make the project possible, including Charles Diaz, the store manager of Lowe’s of Rockingham, and Beth Talbert, the project coordinator for the trail.
Welch reminded attendees of the importance of walking with a quote by author Carrie Latet, which states, “Walking is the most ancient exercise and is still the best modern exercise.”
Donna Luther, the director of the East Rockingham Senior Center, continued by highlighting the commutative effort in making the project possible.
“The walking trail is awesome,” Luther said. “It was a problem before, but together we got it done! In the grand scheme of things, we are small and insignificant, but together we can accomplish anything.”
The updated trail at the East Rockingham Park is a combined effort of Steps to Health, a program of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), and the North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. Joining these organizations are many community vendors through a grant awarded by the Department of Agriculture and Human Services at North Carolina State.
The old condition of the trail was brought to the attention of the community by Alyssa Anderson, a cooperative extension agent, who was teaching a SNAP-ed course at the center.
The motto at N.C. State is “Think and Do”, so agents are encouraged to conduct an environmental scan to promote the healthy living practices they are teaching in class and beyond the classroom. After speaking with several members of the center, the need for a safe walking trail was at the top of the list to better initiate wellness.
Through research and outreach in only a month’s time, led by Dr. Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, assistant professor and extension specialist with the Department of Agriculture and Human Services of N.C. State, a proposal was created and submitted and the project received a grant of $12,000 for its completion.
Initially the plan was to just renovate the trail, removing old stumps and repairing walkways, but as the money stretched, so did the plan. Park benches, water fountains and signage were also added to enhance the walkability of the trail and to invite the seniors to use it more.
Dr. Maslow expressed excitement for being a part of the project and it benefits for the community, the seniors and for future generations.
“We are so excited,” she says. “ We used almost all local vendors and got to work with amazing community members.”
She continued, “I really hope that you all will enjoy the trail for years to come, your grandchildren and your grandchildren’s children.”
Bryan Land, the Interim County Manager of Richmond County, and Don Bryant, a Commissioner of Richmond County and owner of Bryant’s Turf and Landscape, also shared remarks and expressed thanks to all community partners who supported the efforts.
“My father always said, if you stop working, you’ll go to seed,” Bryant said. “So we need to make sure that we stay physically and mentally prepared.”
Many seniors express appreciation for the new trail and the benefits it brings.
Carolyn Capel, 59, native of Ellerbe, has a rare bone disease and says the walking trail is necessary for people like herself and wellness in general.
“I can’t really sit down so walking gives me something to do versus just standing,” Capel says.
She adds, “My hope is that they begin to work on providing something like this for us seniors in Ellerbe.”
The ribbon cutting concluded with door prizes giveaways including, hats, healthy living accessories, Lowe’s gift cards, and even a gardening starter kit. Seniors also enjoyed snacks and a nice walk around the new trail.
For more information on the new walking trail and Richmond County Aging Services, please contact Jacqueline Welch at 910-997-4491 or Jacqueline.firstname.lastname@example.org.