As an ongoing initiative, Spread the Health Appalachia is working cooperatively with the Knox County Public Schools, Knox County Fiscal Court and the Knox County Health Department to implement activities and programs to help improve the health of Knox County families.
Officials representing all organizations and agencies were present on Friday, September 20, at the Knox County Board of Education for an agreement signing that will allow work to begin on a new quarter-mile asphalt walking track at Dewitt Elementary.
A groundbreaking ceremony will soon take place for the track, which will be open to the public after school hours and on weekends. Knox County employees will then begin work on the new track by laying the gravel for the project. Hinkle Contracting will the complete the project by laying the asphalt.
“I grew up three houses down from Dewitt School many years ago, and we could walk up and down the road because there wasn’t very much traffic,” said Belinda Prichard. There were maybe five cars that would go up and down the road in a day, so we felt pretty safe. Now there’s probably 30 cars a minute that go past that school. So this walking track will give people the opportunity to go exercise in a safe place that’s removed from the road.”
The walking track is just one of several successful projects Spread the Health Appalachia is conducting throughout Knox County. Ongoing projects already in the works include a Farm to School national program at Central Elementary where its fourth grade students are learning to do their own composting from leftover lunch food grow fresh produce in their own greenhouse.
“I see this becoming a very successful program,” said Erin Hammond, of Central’s Farm to School project. “The students will take what they’ve learned in class, take it back home, and implement it into their daily lives. Hopefully, their parents will then get involved and make healthier choices for the whole family.”
Another project under the Spread the Health Appalachia umbrella was the recent Health 2 Go program, where fresh produce, as well as healthier food options, was integrated into the inventory of remote, off-the-beaten-path country stores located on the outskirts of the county.
Most recently, Spread the Health Appalachia, helped supplement advertising for the Knox County Farmers’ Market.
Prichard said if there is any grant money left after DeWitt gets its walking track, Spread the Health Appalachia will try to raise enough money for another walking track at Flat Lick Elementary.
Spread the Health Appalachia is currently in partnership with Bell, Cumberland Valley District, and Knox County health departments and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Transformation Grant for Small Communities.
Standing from left to right: Belinda Prichard of Spread the Health Appalachia, Dewitt School Principal Marcie Walker, Erin Hammond, Program Associate for Spread the Health Appalachia, Knox Schools Facilities Coordinator Kim Merida, and Board of Education Chairman Merrill Smith witness as Knox Schools Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles and Knox County Fiscal Court Judge J.M. Hall sign a shared use agreement to have the county begin the construction of a quarter-mile walking track at Dewitt Elementary School.