Active Trails grant goes to local nonprofit to help people “find their park”

Authored By matt.pulford

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park announced this week that they received a $25,000 Active Trails grant from the National Park Foundation to encourage locals to “find their park” in their communities.

Kim Coons, chief of interpretation and resource education at Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP, said the purpose of the grant was to help connect and create the next generation of park “visitors, supporters and advocates.”

The local military park gave the money to Glass House Collective so people in East Chattanooga could better experience the two units of the military park in their neighborhood-Sherman Reservation and Pennsylvania Reservation, Coons said.

“[The GHC] is already doing outreach in the community to revitalize it, and we’re a part of that community,” Coons said. “With Pennsylvania Reservation on Glass Street and Sherman not too far off, [the partnership] was a natural fit because our park, too, is part of the neighborhood. We wanted the community to know that we’re a neighbor and available for their use and education.”

Teal Thibaud, GHC executive director, said GHC has made great strides in increasing awareness of Sherman Reservation among locals already, but with money from the military park, they will be able to expand their efforts.

“The Active Trails grant is for programmatic use,” Thibaud said. ”Funds are designated toward getting unique visitors to our parks through targeted community outreach, marketing, community meetings, facilitated group hikes, educational outdoor trips and transportation.”

GHC will use the money to take people involved with their programming on about 15 trips to Sherman Reservation and other area parks.

Thibaud said the benefits and impact of this grant are “multifaceted,” positively affecting health and culture in their community:

Sixty-four percent of Glass Street’s residents live in poverty, and the people who live here suffer from health disparities and inequalities. The Active Trails grant provides the means to not just get East Chattanooga youth outdoors but to engage them in healthy activities. Likewise, East Chattanooga youth are vulnerable to gang recruitment, but there are few pro-social alternatives youth can take advantage of. This Active Trails grant will provide an alternative while at the same time providing youth with outdoor experiences not readily available in everyday lives.

A news release said that Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was one of 25 national parks to receive a 2016 Active Trails grant.

As of last year, the Active Trails grants have been used to engage more than 12,000 volunteers and 740 project partners nationwide, the news release said.

Updated @ 4:40 p.m. on 2/24/16.