Our national parks are places to create important and special memorable moments that we can cherish for years to come. Admiring a bird soaring in the sky, crunching leaves underfoot along a trial, or seeing yourself reflected in a park exhibit – these are just a few examples of the ways we interact with our parks. Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with these experiences.

By eliminating barriers, promoting access, and cultivating connections to all that our parks have to offer, the National Park Foundation (NPF)’s support of community connections projects works on a local level to encourage everyone to make a connection to a national park near them. Whether it’s visiting the park for the first time or discovering a new way to explore and enjoy the park, these projects help ensure that all people can see themselves in parks and feel welcome in these places that belong to us all.

Highlights & Projects

Group of students at Fort Stanwix National Monument

Fitness in Ft. Stanwix

With the help of an NPF grant, Fort Stanwix National Monument expanded access to the general public and encourage healthy fitness activities, including bike and kayak programs along the Erie Canal. Building on the foundation of their history-focused walks, park staff now lead visitors on much longer hikes through the park and along the Mohawk River Trail. 

A peninsula in the river as seen from above

Getting Outdoors in Chattanooga

NPF, with the help of the City of Chattanooga, Glass House Collective, and the Chattanooga Hamilton County Health Department, supported Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in their efforts to engage residents of East Chattanooga to encourage them to partake in a variety of healthy outdoor activities at the park. 

a lone kayaker paddling through new river gorge

Wellness in West Virginia

NPF funding trained a group of volunteer community members to teach wellness activities along New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. These classes built the capacity to bring an increased level of wellness activities into the local community and reached new audiences while building partnerships with local nonprofits. 

Shoreline in Ala Kahakai Historic Trail National Park

Music Along Ala Kahakai

NPF, Ala Kahakai Trail Association, and groups that manage segments of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail produced a group of small-scale informal music events at three specific communities, at which local community members shared what is unique about their place. The events included songs, hula, and food to bring the community together. 

Group of young people standing outside pointing at something, looking out over water with a city sky

Summer Fun on Spectacle Island

Boston Harbor Now, in partnership with Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, hosted Summer Fun on Spectacle: Get Out and Move! The robust menu of outdoor recreational opportunities, supported by NPF, included hikers, kite flying, swimming, kayaking, yoga, and more. 

Youth hiking in summer woods

Hiking to Health at Kennesaw

Engaging youth from Marietta City Schools and seniors at Cobb Senior Services Centers, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offered in-park Field Days, supported by NPF. Seniors enjoyed in-park sessions including park orientation, fitness instruction, and a choice of guided hikes. Family Field Days invited students and their families for a series of activities co-hosted by the Cobb County YMCA.

Young woman enjoying a day hike

Explore for Health in Boston Harbor Islands

With NPF support, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and its partners were able to collaboratively plan, market, and implement a series of outdoor fitness programs, as well as develop signage for healthy heart trail walks and runs on the newly established trail system on Peddocks Island. The summer-long series of health, wellness, and fitness activities were enjoyed by youth, families, millennials, and elders.

Paddling in the park

Paddling Playalinda

Building on the success of a paddling program in the Apollo District of Canaveral National Seashore, NPF supported the development and implementation of a paddling program in the park's Playalinda District. The program was run by volunteer Master Naturalists in Coastal Ecology, who have a great knowledge of the area's marine resources and are experienced paddlers.