Bike ride

The National Park Service (NPS) and the Outdoor Foundation have awarded $18,500 to Active Southern West Virginia (Active SWV) to support its work to engage youth and kinship families in partnership with New River Gorge National River.

The funding is part of the 2019 Challenge Cost Share Program, which funds projects that support NPS mission-related projects that also align with the goals of local partners.

The partners selected 20 projects from 97 applications and will award more than $360,000 that will be matched by an estimated $940,000 in direct and in-kind contributions from recipients, the release said. A wide range of selected projects will improve access and opportunities for outdoor recreation, environmental stewardship, and education.

“These funds and this partnership will allow us to reach more youth and the growing population of grandfamilies in our region,” said Melanie Seiler, executive director Active SWV. “Physical activity, social supports, and connection to parks can improve the quality of life in southern West Virginia. We welcome all those interested to join us in the Get Active in the Park program through August 2020.”

The funds and partnership will help Active SWV reach 20 percent more youth in free programs such as paddle boarding, bicycling, and rock climbing, the release said. Funds will be available for area elementary schools to start hiking clubs. Free programs will be advertised and made available to kinship households. Funds will also support youth-specific signature events.

“We are excited to continue to grow our very successful partnership with Active Southern West Virginia,” said Julena Campbell, chief of interpretation and education. “The Get Active in the Park activities are some of the most popular park programs we offer for both locals and the visiting public. Expanding the program by targeting grandfamilies is a great example of the multi-generational audiences we are trying to bring into national parks all across the country. We love introducing children and their families to all the wonderful ways they can have fun in and connect with the parks.”

The Challenge Cost Share Program supports National Park Service parks, National Trails and Wild and Scenic Rivers aligned with partners improving recreation opportunities, creating access and infrastructure, protecting and restoring trails or rivers/riverside lands, stewardship through public engagement, and increasing public use and awareness.

The initiative requires a 1:1 match by the local recipient, resulting in greater financial leverage and impact.

“The Outdoor Foundation is thrilled to continue to partner with the National Park Service to reconnect Americans to their national parks and engage a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “The Challenge Cost Share program continues to be a great program that leverages public and private funds and invests in local partnerships that deliver results.”

Email: wholdren@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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