» By Chaseton Donahoe
A set of walking trails have been developed for on-campus fitness using a $20,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Timothy Leszczak, assistant professor of health and human performance and the grant’s project leader, explained, “The primary focus, and the reason why, was to offer a physical activity program with nutritional education to an underserved population.” The grant was acquired from the Tennessee Health Department’s initiative called, “Eat Well, Play More Tennessee.”
The first step is to develop the walking trails on campus, called the “GovTrails.” Another goal was to offer workshops to Lincoln Homes residents, the faculty, staff and students of APSU and also to the Burt Elementary School students, in hopes that all parties would improve aerobic fitness and have better understanding of making healthy food choices.
About 80 percent of the students in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System receive free or reduced lunch, and about 30 percent of the students are considered obese by state standards. To help reduce these numbers, in addition to starting Lincoln Homes walking groups, the second step includes starting a P.E. class walking program for Burt Elementary students using pedometers. Nutrition workshops will be offered at Burt Elementary by the Food Initiative, and cooking classes will be offered for Lincoln Homes and APSU by the Montgomery County Department of Health.
There will be three trails. The Blue Trail will start on the sidewalk between the soccer fields and the Shasteen Building and will be 1.5 miles long. The Green Trail will begin in the plaza area by the University Center and will be one mile long. The Red Trail will also begin in the center of campus but closer to the library and will be half a mile long.
The pathways were mapped by Leszczak and Mike Wilson from Geographic Information Systems. The trail markers and trail heads were designed by David Johnson in Public Relations, and two companies are developing the trail heads, directional arrows, and mile markers.
Besides GIS and PR, involved campus departments include the Physical Plant, Alumni Relations, the Department of Health and Human Performance and the School of Nursing. The School of Nursing’s Patty Orr helped to write the grant and is working on recruiting residents of Lincoln Homes. The Coordinated School Health Program, Burt Elementary School, The Food Initiative and the Montgomery County Department of Health also helped with the project.
“We hope that this grant will lead to other grants related to physical activity, disease prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles, and that we can use these trails for other programming,” Leszczak said. All campus affiliates are invited to the official introduction of the GovTrails on Wednesday, March 27 at 11:30 a.m.