The Elk Rapids Strong Project

Did you hear the great news! With support from the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Norte is excited to bring our vision of happy, healthy, strong communities to Elk Rapids. By partnering with local champions, we’re helping to weave a culture of health into the fabric of Elk Rapids so it can be its best – its healthiest.

The Vision

Kids learning to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school or the park or the library or the beach – and then inspiring their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors to do the same is, in our opinion, a powerful means to sustainable well-living and community healthfulness.

Organized sports and recreation are great, but Norte believes that embedding walking and biking into our daily routine can empower young people to be independent, happy, confident, and ready to learn so that they become guardians of their health, develop lifelong habits to move more and sit less and be leaders in their community.

The Project

Norte’s youth-centered, active transportation-focused, neighborhood-based model combines four interconnected initiatives as a complete package to engage, empower and excite young people – and those who love them:

  • Safe Routes to School: Encouragement and educational programs empowering students to actively get themselves to school
  • Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy: Building stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly communities
  • Youth mountain bike team: Developing confidence, independence and grit by way of pedal-powered adventures in our northern Michigan forests with Glacial Sabados
  • Youth leadership council: Assisting self-directed young people to speak up, stand up, get involved and do good in their community

The Plan

The Elk Rapids Strong Project is a two-year project that aims to strengthen community. By empowering kids to get off the couch, off the screen and outside, the project will help reduce childhood obesity, traffic congestion, air pollution and social isolation.  It will build a stronger, better connected and more walk/bike friendly Elk Rapids.

The Team

Current Project Team:

  • Lauren Dake (chair)
  • Caroline Kennedy
  • Beth Guntzviller
  • Melissa West
  • Bryan McKenna

The Community Partners

We need more – lots more! – partners. Being an Elk Rapids Strong Project Community Partner is both easy and awesome. All we need is your support and community influence. Email us at to have your organization, business or event added to the list.

Get involved

Change is local. We have developed a grassroots method that recruits, trains and empowers neighborhood champions to take charge and be that change.

If you are passionate about happy, healthy, ready to learn kids and a stronger, better connected, more walk/bike friendly Elk Rapids, then we NEED you.

Whether it’s being on the Project Team or volunteering once in a while or just staying up to date, please get involved by completing this form: