By Brad Hicks

The RISE Erwin group is gearing up to kickoff what its members have described as a “summertime adventure series” of free events designed to offer fun and education for the whole family.

The first of the group’s RISE & Shine family events will be held this Saturday, June 10, beginning at 10 a.m. Different events, which are the result of partnerships with local organizations and agencies, will be held each Saturday beginning at that same time throughout the summer.

“Part of our initiative at RISE is to support our community, and one thing that we have realized is there’s not a lot of events within our community during the summer months of June and July, and we have so much locally to offer. There’s just no organized activities,” Kristin Anders with RISE Erwin said. “So that’s how the RISE & Shine summer series came to be.”

This Saturday’s activity will be held at the Unicoi County Family YMCA. Anders said RISE Erwin has partnered with the YMCA to offer a free YCMA day. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees will have free access to the facility and classes offered there. Those taking part in the free YMCA day may also participate in outdoor field games, which will begin at 10 a.m. and include cornhole hopscotch and four square, to be held on the grounds of the facility.

The June 17 RISE & Shine event, which will be held at Rocky Fork State Park, will be Rocky Fork volunteer day and will include a guided hike. Anders said participants will aid the efforts at Rocky Fork State Park by helping to clean creeks and trails within the park to keep them accessible and safe. Staff with Rocky Fork State Park will also be on hand to lead attendees on a leisure hike through the park following the cleanup.

June 24’s RISE & Shine activity will feature bicycle safety training led by the Erwin Police Department. Anders said this activity, which will be held in the parking lot adjacent to the Unicoi County Courthouse, ties in with the organized community bike rides that will be a part of this season’s Downtown Erwin Farmers Market, which began its second season on Tuesday. The Downtown Erwin Farmers Market will continue each Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. through September.

“A lot of children, and even adults, just need to be reminded of traffic signals and safety when riding through town, so we’re going to go over that and then they’re going to do a little half-course, and then everyone is welcome to ride through town together,” Anders said of the June 24 activity.

Anders said RISE & Shine events slated for July include a “Touch a Truck” activity to be held in the parking lot next to the Unicoi County Courthouse. This activity will allow participants to get an up-close, hands-on look at vehicles used by local police and fire departments, the U.S. Army, and those used in agriculture. July’s slate is also set to include a support day for the Unicoi County Animal Shelter in which participants will help the shelter by walking animals along the Erwin Linear Trail and assisting with cleanup and landscaping around the facility.

Several of the RISE & Shine events will be “multifaceted” in that they will offer a fun activity for families while giving back to the community by helping organizations such as Rocky Fork State Park and the Unicoi County Animal Shelter.

More information on RISE & Shine events to be held in July are slated to be released in mid-June and additional information on each upcoming event will be disseminated weekly.

For more information on the RISE & Shine events, find RISE Erwin on Facebook or contact the group at riseerwin@gmail.com.