Ridge Spring Focusing on Getting Families Outside More Often

Town of Ridge Spring, SC made park improvements
New sensory equipment

Rural municipalities are relying on increased community engagement to enhance amenities and opportunities for families to explore local businesses, as well as provide inclusive play opportunities for children of all abilities. Focusing on these types of improvements means looking at the built environment, which influences healthy eating and physical activity.

The built environment includes the man-made spaces where we live. When community leaders value the surroundings and what they offer to attract residents and visitors, there is an opportunity to create more liveable, thriving spaces for recreation and transportation purposes. In Ridge Spring, SC, community leaders are investing in changes to the environment to increase walking, bicycling, outdoor playing and the local economy.

With assistance from the Upper Savannah Council on Governments, the Town of Ridge Spring applied for a Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Mini-Grant to purchase and install bike racks and inclusive playground equipment. The small, rural Saluda County town wanted to encourage residents to become more active. They proposed installing bicycle racks at the farmers market and interactive sensory equipment at the community playground.  

Town of Ridge Spring, SC made park improvements
New and updated riders

According to their application, several public hearings related to streetscape (view of a street) projects and potential improvements related to walkability (a measure of how friendly an area is to walking) were held and residents responded. They were interested in being able to walk and bike to places more safely. There was also a desire to update the community playground. Like many rural community parks, the equipment was outdated, unsafe and unappealing.

With HEAL Mini-Grant funds, Ridge Spring installed a bike rack at the farmers market, providing opportunities for cyclists to secure their bicycles and feel comfortable while they browse and shop. At the playground, new sensory-related equipment was installed, which helps make the space more inclusive of children’s needs. Observations indicate increased usage of the playground and children are playing longer.

Through the mini-grant, the town found a new partnership with Kids in Parks, a non-profit organization focused on getting families and children to spend more time outside. The new partnership could lead to additional funding opportunities to assist with future projects. Leaders also have their eye on improving another community playground and placing more bike racks in other areas of the town.

Town of Ridge Spring, SC made park improvements
Bike rack at the farmers market