In Chattanooga, TN’s densely populated 98404 zip code, there are nearly 5000 homes with no access to a park within walking distance. As an urban neighborhood close to downtown, there are many people who bike and walk everywhere. A diverse mix of families, young professionals, seasoned adults, artists, and college students, the interests are varied and multigenerational. There are three schools in the area, but until now, no public place for people to play and recreate. The BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park has changed that forever. A joint-use space between the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation and three local charter schools: Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga Preparatory School and the Montessori School at Highland Park, the park serves school children on weekdays during school hours. When the park isn’t being used by the school, it’s open to the public. To gauge the tremendous impact the space has had on local families, one only has to drop by any weekday after school, or on the weekend.
The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation is building BlueCross Healthy Places to provide their neighbors in Tennessee with spaces to get to know one another and enjoy healthy activity. They are free to use and include playgrounds, fitness equipment, and other features for visitors of all ages and abilities to enjoy together. As of this writing there are nearly 20 Healthy Places throughout Tennessee bringing more families within a 10-minute walk to a park.
The Healthy Place at Highland Park includes a sports field with bleachers, a family-friendly obstacle course with precision timing, a walking track, basketball and tennis courts, an adult fitness area, a picnic pavilion, restrooms, and accessible play areas. A recent trip to the space showed a wealth of intergenerational activities as families enjoyed an impromptu game of soccer on the field, moms pushed strollers around the track, a dad and his daughter competed on the obstacle course, a senior couple exercised in the fitness area, and teens cheered on their friends playing tennis. In the picnic pavilion, several spreads were laid out awaiting a break in the intergenerational play.