Fresh air, sunshine and wide open spaces are three things most people would like to enjoy more often. Spending time outdoors has numerous health benefits, and studies have shown that increasing access to parks and public green spaces can support residents in increasing physical activity, reducing obesity and minimizing risks for chronic disease.
Recognizing the essential role of green spaces in public health, a group of committed citizens and leaders in Carrollton are working to bring more parks and recreational areas to west Georgia. Their efforts are part of Get Healthy, Live Well, a CDC-funded community transformation grant that was awarded to Tanner Health System in 2012.
Expanding the Carrollton Greenbelt
On Saturday, Aug. 24, hundreds of runners gathered at Hobbs Farm Trailhead in Carrollton to celebrate the opening of a newly completed segment of the Carrollton Greenbelt. The event marked the culmination of work on the 2.1-mile section that runs through the rolling acreage of Hobbs Farm between Stewart Street and Rome Street.
Runners of all ages enjoyed the trail’s scenic views of wooded wetlands and wildlife near the Little Tallapoosa River. Local band Groove Gypsies kept the crowd entertained, and sponsor Morgan Oil provided refreshments to all the participants. United Community Bank awarded two $1,000 prizes to the winners of the Dash for Cash at the end of the day.
A Get Healthy, West Georgia display in the registration area educated participants about the benefits of physical fitness and allowed them to check their BMI. The booth also provided information about the Get Healthy, Live Well initiative and invited attendees to become volunteers. Tanner Health System’s community benefit staff members interacted with runners as they registered, and a few also completed the 5K. Veteran staffer Gina Brandenburg represented the group well by winning first place in her age division.
Now that the Hobbs Farm trail is open, local residents can safely hike or bike all the way from Lake Carroll to Rome Street. Get Healthy, Live Well is working to encourage local residents to use the trail and increase support for the Greenbelt program in hopes that the entire 16-mile paved loop can be completed in coming years.
Growing Community Gardens
In addition to supporting expansion of the Greenbelt, Get Healthy, Live Well volunteers are working to bring community gardens to more residents of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties. The group launched its first garden in Carrollton’s Knox Park this year, and recently announced plans for a second community garden at Stockmar Park in Villa Rica.
The Knox Park community garden was planted in Carrollton in May 2013 by a coalition of more than 80 volunteers. Centrally located near primarily low-income households, the garden offers numerous residents access to sustainably grown produce. In spite of a wet summer, dedicated volunteers have lovingly tended the beds and are now enjoying the results of their collective labor. The next work day at Knox Park community garden is Thursday, Aug. 29, from 5:30 to 7 pm.
The new community garden will be located at Stockmar Park in Villa Rica near the Pine Mountain Gold Museum. “We’re excited about the tremendous potential of the Stockmar Park garden location,” said Jillian Walker, co-chair of the Community Gardens task force at Get Healthy, Live Well. “The site expects to draw around 100,000 visitors in 2014. Many of them are school children who will have the opportunity to visit the garden and learn about the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.” The task force is planning its first work day at Stockmar Park for late September.
For more information on upcoming community garden events or links to information about the Carrollton Greenbelt, visit the Get Healthy, Live Well website at www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org.
About Get Healthy, Live Well
Sponsored by Tanner Health System and funded by a $1.2 million Community Transformation Grant by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Get Healthy, Live Well is working to improve health and wellness and decrease the incidence of chronic diseases by addressing key risk factors such as obesity, tobacco use and hypertension for the approximately 151,000 residents of Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties.
To learn more about Get Healthy, Live Well and how you can get involved, visit www.GetHealthyLiveWell.org, find the fan page on Facebook, or contact the Get Healthy, Live Well office at Tanner Health System by calling 770.836.9282.