By Heather Wood
Kernersville will be celebrating Parks and Recreation month by highlighting the impacts we have had on our community. This July, join us for Parks and Recreation Month, as we celebrate how Kernersville has become stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient through parks and recreation.
Every park has a history made up of thousands of stories, helping to define it and give it a personality. This July, big changes are coming to Civitan Park. The long-range plans to move forward with improvements to the park are underway.
In 2015, the Department initiated a Community Needs Assessment in an attempt to collect the citizen’s needs and wants for our local park system. The results for Civitan Park identified fitness components, additional play features, tennis courts, aquatics, and shelters as the biggest needs. With the proximity of the Civitan and Fourth of July Park, it was important that each park focuses on addressing different needs and offerings. The Director of Parks and Recreation, Ernie Pages, sought out to find what amenities could make Civitan Park more appealing as well as addressing those needs. In relation, a separate master plan for the Etta Lea & Lawrence Pope Memorial Park calls for a large splash pad. Pope Park’s plan firmly placed “Fitness and Life-long Sport” as the highlight in the renovation of Civitan Park. In that vein, Kernersville Parks and Recreation was awarded a grant by the National Fitness Campaign for the installation of a new Fitness Court as part of the renovation project. Through vigorous research, Mr. Pages stumbled across the possibility to partner with Novant Health to achieve a shared goal for our community.
In order to maintain non-profit status, local hospitals must complete a routine Community Health Assessment. The outcome resulted in two main health risks for Kernersville residents: obesity and diabetes. The same assessment identified a lack of affordable fitness outlets and a lack of nutritional education as the main adversities in addressing the risks. Novant Health and Kernersville Parks and Recreation have partnered together in an effort to address these needs, building something benefiting both agencies. This year, Novant will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary in Kernersville by sponsoring the naming of the Fitness Court at Civitan. This partnership would allow them access to our park as an outlet to provide affordable fitness and nutritional programs to Kernersville citizens.
Newly named in 2021, Civitan Fitness Park will see work beginning to install the fitness court for a grand opening this summer. The main components will include cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition, and cool down.
The remaining renovation project of the park will break ground after July 4. The new amenities will focus on life-long fitness. Construction will begin on four new tennis courts, three dedicated pickle ball courts, ball field renovations, a new play area, two shelters, single-stall unisex restrooms, and increased parking.
The current ball field will undergo some structural changes to increase playability of the field. Kernersville Parks and Recreation have partnered with the Atlanta Braves and Visit Winston-Salem to create girl’s fast pitch and youth baseball travel teams for underserved populations. A secondary partnership between the Kernersville Police and the Parks and Recreation Department will work to initiate a new program for the youth in our community focused on developing needed life skills.
There are multiple and similar playground options throughout the town. Therefore, there was an identified need for a space for teens and adults. This new play space will have an NFL style timed challenge course to better serve individuals aged 11 to adults. This course will include a timed 40-yard dash and is meant to improve fitness but also cultivate competition and self-improvement. It was important that mental fitness was included. The new play area will have an interactive gaming arch with computerized S.T.E.M. games. There will be multiple games available routed in math, science, problem solving, improved recognition, and more.
We are very excited to see the park come to completion and offer another fun place to visit in Kernersville!
To continue our story, we have a few more fun updates happening at other local parks. Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex acquired an additional 13 acres of land. This new property will allow us to add additional parking as well as expanding services. Some plans include relocating the current dog park to this area accommodating visitors and their pets with a larger park and more accessible parking.
The biggest departmental story is the approval by the Board of Alderman for the continued planning of a new Recreation and Events Center! Department leadership is working with Clark, Patterson, and Lee Architects on construction and schematic plans for the facility. Pending current economic conditions, we anticipate breaking ground within the following year.
Parks are at the center of so many experiences and memories — moments that park and recreation professionals make happen. Our local parks are often our first experiences in nature, our introduction to a favorite hobby or physical activity. They are places to gather with friends and family, spaces to celebrate life’s special moments, spots of respite and healing, sites that connect us with essential community services, and so much more.