On Wednesday, June 10, Eastern Panhandle students participated in a check hand-off event with members from Freedom’s Run, Eastern Area Health Education Center (EAHEC) and the C&O Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) at the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, Md.

The event represented an ongoing collaboration between the C&O Canal and its partner, EAHEC/Freedom’s Run, to expand outreach to local West Virginia students in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, increasing awareness of local natural, cultural and recreational resources through curriculum-based education programs.

The generous amount donated by EAHEC’s Freedom’s Run Fund, a non-profit corporation, is part of a three-year proposal totaling $30,000. This marks the second consecutive year of support for the C&O Canal Classrooms education program and will focus solely on outreach to local West Virginia students.

“The Eastern Area Health Education Center is an integral partner with the WVU School of Medicine and our community," said Konrad Nau, M.D., dean of the HSC Eastern Division and chairman of the EAHEC Board. "Just as clinics and hospitals cannot be the only place we impact health – physical activity cannot only take place in the gym or fitness center. We are proud to support this project that couples outdoor walking exercise and historic education for our youth.”

Race director, EAHEC Board member and WVU Department of Family Medicine Professor Mark Cucuzzella, M.D., added, “Our region is abundant in opportunities for place-based learning and combining education and physical activity with our history. The Canal gives something special to youth and adults, and we want to help preserve its heritage.”

As a result of this important donation, local students will spend their day learning in an outdoor classroom at their local national park, the C&O Canal. During their visit, students will participate in a variety of hands-on, STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) lessons that are both engaging and fun. All programs identify with national and state curriculum standards and include pre- and post-visit materials.

“Increasing outreach to local students is a top priority in our education strategic plan,” said C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt. “We are grateful for the new opportunities this partnership creates for engaging students in their local natural, cultural and recreational resources.”

The C&O Canal launched the Canal Classrooms education program in 2013. Founded on sustainable practices and building partnerships, Canal Classrooms inspires life-long learning through hands-on, place-based educational programming that aligns with PK-12 curriculum standards. Education programs are available at a variety of park locations and include classroom extension lessons and STEM activities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/choh or email the C&O Canal at cocanaleducation@nps.gov.