The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health Brownsville has been awarded a $20,000 grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy or RTC.
According to RTC, the grants are investments in community-led efforts to create more opportunities for people to connect with trails in their neighborhoods—either through activities and events or through improved, connected trail infrastructure.
“This grant will allow us to expand our current Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! programming to include nature and outdoor experiences. The physical activity and nature exposure will help our region address its high rates of chronic disease, including diabetes, as well as improve mental health,” said Dr. Belinda Reininger, regional dean at the UTHealth School of Public Health Brownsville campus, in a media release.
UTHealth’s grant will fund new programming through Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta!, the community-based program designed to inspire increased physical activity and well-being for individuals and families throughout the region. The new programming directly connects Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! with the Caracara Trails, the developing regional trail network that will eventually provide residents and tourists with access to 428 miles of hike and bike trails, paddling trails and U.S. Bicycle Routes.
The trail network is creating more opportunities for active recreation and active transportation throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley. By bringing in this new programming—which is designed to highlight nature and wellness and is built for families—Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! is inviting the community to experience firsthand the benefits of being active outside.
“This funding will help us introduce our local residents to the Caracara Trail Network, which will include hundreds of miles of hike and bike trails and paddling routes highlighting the natural beauty of the region,” said Adrienne Wheatley, Caracara Trails project manager for come dream, come build (CDCB).
RTC’s Trail Grant Program emphasizes strategic investments that support significant regional and community trail development goals—often providing funding for projects that are small in scope and scale and can be hard to finance within traditional funding streams. These projects are essential to building, maintaining and managing the trails that communities rely upon for recreation, transportation and economic vitality.
The programming will include free weekly outdoor activities on trails in several locations across Cameron County, including Brownsville, Los Fresnos, Primera and Rio Hondo. In the future, more locations and activities will be added.