Get Ready to Take the 2015 Fit Family Challenge


Published:

The Fit Family Challenge is a healthy lifestyle program that inspires families to get active, make healthy nutritional choices and create long-term habits that will serve each family member well.

Families can register online at carolinaparent.com/fitfamilychallenge to track their activities for a chance to win prizes, including a family vacation to Florida. There is no cost to register and take part in the Fit Family Challenge, which runs April 21 to June 15, 2015.

Carolina Parent will follow the progress of two families for eight weeks and report on their challenges and progress in our May and June issues. The Gomez family of Holly Springs and the Ojala family of North Raleigh will receive customized plans and motivational guidance from three experts as they embark on this life-changing journey.

Meet the Families

Let’s learn about our spotlight families and what kinds of challenges they anticipate. In our next two issues, our panel of experts will share with readers the advice they have given the Gomez and Ojala families, and we will follow them to see how they are changing their lives for the better.

The Gomez Family

Katherine Gomez and her husband David live in Holly Springs. Katherine is a stay-at-home mom and David is a process engineer for a startup Research Triangle Park company. They are well into their parenting years. Six-year-old Anthony is in kindergarten at Middle Creek Elementary School in Apex and Andrew is almost 2 years old. And yet, Katherine sometimes feels stuck in neutral.

“I feel like we haven’t quite gotten out of survival mode,” Katherine says. “We’re not taking charge of meal planning. We talk a lot about joining a gym. We say, ‘When things settle down we will do that.’ But our oldest son is 6 now and we still haven’t done it.”

Before their children were born, Katherine and David embraced physical activity with a rare passion. Both ran marathons and participated in triathlons. Saturday mornings were reserved for long runs and bike rides.

Parenthood changed all that.

“Now that we have kids, we choose sleep over exercise,” says Katherine, who taught eighth-grade English until Anthony was born. “Other than chasing the boys and our two dogs, we’re not really intentional with exercise.”

Both Anthony and Andrew are active and like to play outside. David helps coach Anthony’s baseball team. While that’s a good start for both parents, Katherine anticipates a difficult road.

“We also realize how quickly you can backtrack,” she says. “If you go two or three weeks of being sedentary, then you’re pretty much starting over. It will take time, but small steps will have big rewards.”

It will also take some commitment for the Gomez family to change their eating habits.

“We’re starting pretty much at ground zero,” Katherine says. “A lot of our meals are fast food or take out. We may do a Crock-Pot meal once a week.”

The challenge ahead is a big one, but Katherine is ready to embrace it.

“We’ve been looking for a reset button on our whole lifestyle,” she says. “This would give us an excellent support system and the challenge we have been talking about.”

The Gomez family has set three primary goals:

1. Eating home-cooked meals. Ideally Katherine and David would like to prepare a healthy dinner at home three or four times a week.

“It’s important for the boys’ health and ours,” Katherine says. “Saving money would be a positive side effect.”

2. Achieving a healthy weight gain for the boys. While Mom and Dad would like to lose a few pounds, Anthony and Andrew are a bit underweight.

“While my husband and I both fall into the overweight category, both of our boys are in the very low percentile of weight gain,” she says. “It’s going to be a challenge for the nutritionist. They need a lot of the healthy fats.”

3. Improving Mom and Dad’s fitness. Katherine looks to David’s parents, who are in their 70s, for inspiration. They owe their good health to eating well and walking several miles a day.

“We see that and we know it’s going to take a lot more than hope to be in that good of physical condition down the road,” Katherine says. “I would like to see us doing something three to five days a week, just something to get moving together. I need to turn things around.”

Getting everyone on the same nutritional page won’t be easy. Katherine isn’t so sure Anthony is making good choices when he buys his lunch at school. Andrew isn’t much of an eater at all, even if he’s eating fast food. David takes a pass on breakfast.

“When I feed my family healthy meals, I know I feel a lot better and more positive,” Katherine says. “Food is fuel for your body. Mentally, you need to eat well to be at your best. And if you do exercise, you stop craving the fast food and junk.”

Photo above of the Gomez family (Katherine, David and their sons Anthony and Andrew) courtesy of Melissa Hayes Photography

The Ojala Familyffc-ojala.jpg

Ben and Stacy Ojala had the right idea on a recent family outing to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. When they finished exploring, rather than getting back into the car, they walked to a barbecue restaurant a half-mile away.

“It was great that we walked, but then we ate barbecue and fried chicken,” Stacy says. “So we didn’t eat anything healthy.”

The Ojalas’ three kids keep them on their toes. Eight-year-old Julia and 6-year-old Andy attend Durant Road Elementary School in North Raleigh. They both take part in the neighborhood swim club and enjoy rollerblading. Five-year-old Ian isn’t quite as motivated to be active but, as a preschooler, he enjoys pretend play and would like to try playing soccer.

“It’s a bit of a challenge sometimes because they want screen time,” Stacy says. “We want to change our lifestyle. It’s not terrible, but we want to be more active.”

In the past, they exercised together, but Ben didn’t enjoy it as much as Stacy, who used to run 5Ks. In recent years, it has been harder to find the time.

“I’m tired by the end of the day,” she says. “I feel guilty if I go to the gym all the time and leave him (with the kids). On weekends I feel like I could go work out, but that’s my time with the family.”

Like so many families, the Ojalas of North Raleigh try to make healthy choices, but doing it consistently often seems impossible. Ben works from home for Western Governors University, an online educational institution, and Stacy works full time as the communications manager for The Body Shop in Wake Forest.

“If you have a day where you work a half-hour longer than you anticipated, you just don’t want to eat at 8 p.m. and then clean up,” Stacy says.

She admits they eat out a lot, often choosing pizza or Mexican food — meals that please the family.

The Ojalas would like to achieve three primary goals:

1. Weight loss for Ben and Stacy. Juggling jobs and parenting responsibilities often means parents lose sight of staying fit. Stacy has a gym membership and enjoys the workouts. Ben might be more inclined to lift weights or do yoga.

“I will go through a stretch where I’m really good and I go back to the gym,” Stacy says. “Once you lose a few pounds, you get motivated. But as I get older, I find that it gets harder to sustain it and get it back.”

2. Getting the kids excited about being active. Stacy would like the children to show more initiative about choosing their own activities.

“It’s not so much that we’re dragging them somewhere and they end up liking it,” she explains. “I want to turn it around so they’re coming up with ideas, and they’re educated about why it’s important.”

3. Preparing nutritious meals. The Ojalas prepare healthy meals — just not enough of them. And they would like to solve some of the dilemmas that go along with mealtime, like finding ways to cook vegetables that will appeal to Julia, Andy and Ian.

“And I would like to cook healthy quickly,” Stacy points out. “When we do plan something healthy, we’re not sitting down to dinner until 7:30 p.m. You can’t be active and eat healthy. It’s kind of one or the other, usually.”

On the positive side, the Ojalas are not homebodies, but they will need to find activities they can participate in together.

“We try to be active, but I think we struggle — myself in particular,” Stacy admits. “It has gotten really hard for both me and my husband to find time to get to the gym. And Ian doesn’t like hiking and doing active things. If we could do something as a family where we all could be active, it would be family time that would be productive.”

Stay tuned next month for an update on the customized plans our panel of experts have created for both families to help them achieve their fitness and nutritional goals. In the meantime, be sure to register your family for Carolina Parent’s Fit Family Challenge at carolinaparent.com/fitfamilychallenge.

The photo above left of the Ojala family (Ben, Stacy, Ian, Julia and Andy) courtesy of Melissa Hayes Photography

Meet the Experts

Evie Houtz from Be Active Kids will serve as the families’ fitness instructor. She will help our spotlight parents discover the best ways to help everyone enjoy an active and fun-filled lifestyle.

Gaye Esser, owner of Redefine Balance, will serve as the balance expert for our spotlight families. She will apply the principles of her business to help our spotlight parents find time to meet their individual needs, as well as those of their children.

Tracy Owens, owner of Triangle Nutrition Therapy, is a board-certified sports and clinical dietician who will create customized nutrition solutions for our spotlight families that are simple and easy to follow.

Get Out There!

Stop by our Fit Family Challenge booth at these fun family-oriented events:

April 11 – Girls on the Run, Durham; gotrtriangle.org.

April 12 – Touch a Truck, University Mall, Chapel Hill; troop39nc.org.

May 2 – Big Muddy Challenge, Youngsville; bigmuddychallenge.com.

May 2 – Meet in the Street, Wake Forest; wakeforestnc.gov/meet-in-the-street.aspx.

Kurt Dusterberg is a freelance writer who lives in Apex. He is the Carolina Hurricanes correspondent for NHL.com and author of the book, “Journeymen: 24 Bittersweet Tales of Short Major League Sports Careers.”

 

 

 

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Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Azevedo Family Psychology and Kym Azevedo will host an Art for Life group each Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM beginning January 16 and running through March 26. This group is completely free, kid...

Cost: FREE

Where:
1903 N. Harrison Ave
Suite 201
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Azevedo Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-624-9568
Contact Name: Kym Azevedo
Website »

More information

The goal of the How To Talk So Kids Will Listen Group workshop is to help you communicate more effectively with children.   In each session of the workshop you'll be introduced to an...

Cost: $12.95 materials fee

Where:
Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
3100 Damascus Church Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Chip, chip, hooray! The first Zambrero in the Southeast is opening on January 24 with zingy, zesty activities! Bodacious Burritos and Bowls: $5 burritos and bowls all day Delicious Drawing: A...

Cost: Free

Where:
1 Glenwood Ave
#105
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: (919) 863-2561
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Take a hike after dark and enjoy the sights and sounds of a quiet night along the American Tobacco Trail. We will walk to the Beaver Creek bridge and back (about one mile total). Free for ages 4...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Join the Museum and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the big picture — of the Universe! From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

RALEIGH (Jan. 16, 2020) – The North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools will host its first school fair during National School Choice Week on Saturday, Jan. 25. The fair will take...

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: NC Association of Public Charter Schools
Telephone: 336-669-9996
Contact Name: Rhonda Dillingham
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Tricky Tracks Saturday, January 25 10-11 a.m. Come dressed for the weather so you can roam the park learning the fine art of “tracking”.   Make a cast of an animal...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society since 2015, the 19th...

Cost: 0

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals deal with cold weather and which ones hibernate...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members,& childre

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

Come support your NC State Gymnastics team as they open the 2020 home season against the Towson Tigers on January 25th at 4 PM. Tickets start at just $3!

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Coliseum
2411 Dunn Ave
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Join us in Arendelle for Frozen-inspired STEAM activities for the whole family! Included in the ticket cost is dinner and dessert for the whole family, make your own sock Olaf and Frozen bouncy...

Cost: $35 per family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Website »

More information

AML Wrestling presents our 5th Anniversary Celebration! WHEN: Saturday, January 25th, 2020WHERE: Winston-Salem Fairgrounds in theHome & Garden Building 408 27th Street NW/Gate #9 Winston-Salem, NC...

Cost: $5

Where:
Winston-Salem Fairgrounds
408 27th Street NW/Gate #9
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Sponsor: AML Wrestling
Telephone: 336-831-0646
Contact Name: Tracy Myers
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.