Free Summer Fun Comes to Warren County

The Warren Record

By Luci Weldon — June 14, 2017

A partnership between research universities and the local community will provide four free events to the Warren County area this summer as part of the Summer 2017 Play Streets Project.

The project

The Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church Summer 2017 safe spaces to play project is the local component of the Play Streets Project, a national effort to provide safe spaces for children and youth to be physically active and have healthy snacks.

The pilot project is funded by Johns Hopkins University’s Physical Activity Research Center in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Baylor University.

Warren County is one of four areas across the country selected to participate in the program, which is designed to focus on places where children and youth may not have access to recreational facilities and centers or healthy foods during the summer months.

Bill Kearney, community outreach manager with the University of North Carolina Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention and associate ministry coordinator at Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church in the Afton-Elberon area, said that his work in both roles brought him in contact with two researchers involved with Play Spaces.

The researchers, Dr. Keshia Pollack of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Dr. Renee Umstattd Meyer of Baylor University, learned about Coley Springs’ efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle in the local community through its community gardens and hosting of a Warren County Schools Summer Feed Program site. Kearney said that Pollack and Meyer contacted him to ask if Coley Springs wanted to partner with the Play Streets Project to host program activities.

Researchers will participate in events held in Warren County and the other sites in order to determine what activities are successful, what challenges arise and how to make the activities sustainable in rural communities.

Local events

While the Warren County safe play events are geared toward children, they will include activities for people of all ages, through senior citizen. The local activities are made possible through a $6,000 Play Streets Project grant.

Warren County events are scheduled as follows:

  • Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at SRA Mobile Home Park (formerly F&M), 104 Old Joshua Dr., Warrenton.
  • Sunday, July 9, 1-5 p.m., Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church, 224 Parktown Rd., Warrenton.
  • Saturday, July 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Saturday, Aug. 19, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church.

All events are free of charge and open to the general public. Each event will include a bounce house, basketball, Frisbee, group games and other physical activities, along with healthy snacks.

Kearney said that researchers will use their observations from the local events to determine how similar activities can be brought to safe spaces in rural communities on a regular basis.

The grant funding will be used for purchasing equipment and food for the activities, and to purchase picnic tables to be placed at SRA Mobile Home Park on a permanent basis, he added.

Kearney is seeking additional community partners who would like to assist with the safe play events. Contributions of food and supplies also will be accepted. For more information, contact Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church at 252-257-4041 or Bill Kearney at 252-213-2121.

Read more at The Warren Record.