For the member of the 2010 Leadership Blount class, their choice of a class legacy project pushed the right buttons on many levels: fitness, children, esthetics and lasting value.
The result is that the families of Blount County have a new Wonder Trail at Springbrook Park.
Class co-gatekeeper Clint Woodfin explained, “Our wonder trail consists of a series of signs along one of the walking trails at Springbrook Park. As people interact with these signs, they’ll be encouraged to observe their surroundings, engage in exercise activities, and learn new ways to enjoy the park.”
In the fall of last year during the class retreat, members of Leadership Blount’s 2010 class discussed different issues affecting people in Blount County.
“Childhood obesity has become such a problem,” said class member Kelly Forster. “Our group decided that we needed to focus in that area and find something we could do that would leave a legacy to help this area. We wanted to give opportunities for children and families to do activities to become healthier and become more active.”
Inspired by United Way of Blount County’s Wonder Trail at Sandy Springs Park, Leadership Blount classmates started discussing ways to promote a healthier living through the concept of a wonder trail.
Co-Gatekeeper Debra Whaley said, “It truly was a collaborative effort.”
Once Leadership Blount received the green light from United Way of Blount County to install its own Wonder Trail in Springbrook Park, organizers of the class project contacted Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks and Rec and the City of Alcoa.
A design committee was formed to create signs that would walk the fine line between functionality and beautification.
Myra Hair, who served as a member of the design committee, said, “We, as a class, thought long and hard about incorporating the activities with the natural settings - using the natural elements of Springbrook Park...(and) to make sure that the wording for the activities actually were appropriate for the natural setting at Springbrook.”
The Wonder Trail uses the natural trail at Springbrook Park, so it’s a full loop with a total of 12 signs.
Forster, who was also instrumental in helping establish the Wonder Trail at Springbrook Park, noted that signs were not just for the children.
“It does involve families doing things together,” Forster said. “Kids love that, and it always puts a smile on your face when you see families doing things together.”
The trail also encourages communication between parents and children.
“One sign involves creating a story of ‘remembering when you were a child’ to actually (encourage) a dialogue with the child you are sharing the Wonder Trail with,” Hair said.
In addition to the trail, Whaley noted her class is working to promote a healthier lifestyle by living by example.
“We wanted to set an example ourselves - whether it be change from white bread to wheat bread or start walking on a regular basis or just making better choices,” Whaley said.
As a whole, the class has pledged to lose a total of 275 pounds by graduation in May, a goal they have all been striving toward in one way or another since the fall.
“I have lost 35 pounds since last August,” Whaley said. “I still have more to go, but the awareness of wanting to eat right and work out and lead by example has been driving me.”
At the end of the day though, the class stresses the promotion of healthy living is not about them, but about Blount County.
Whaley added, “We’re trying to get families out there and make fitness fun.”