A day in the life of the BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park
Key Takeaways David Carnes Park is the site of the first BlueCross Healthy Place. The community space opened in 2019 after being revitalized with a $5.4 million investment from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation. Features include two accessible playgrounds, a multi-purpose field, an improved walking track, fitness equipment, a challenge course, a splash pad and a timed 40-yard dash.
From dawn to dusk, the BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park is full of activity.
At any time of day, the walking trails are filled with regular and first-time visitors. Some are there for fitness – making use of the workout equipment in between laps, while others are out for a simple stroll. Still others make use of the gathering spaces – for Bible studies, birthday parties and picnics. Families use the playground equipment during the day and well into the evening.
Here’s a look at what a typical day at the BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park could include:
Faye Craft and Ronald Wade go for an early morning walk on the track.
Area resident Orlando Hebron stops to use the workout equipment in between laps around the park. 8:30 a.m.
Robert Fleming does squat drills with Diamond Wallace. Robert, a life long fitness fan, runs Renewing Your Youth fitness program with his wife, Gwendolyn. 9:15 a.m.
Fitness is a family affair for the Richards. Desmond, Nicole and children Jaden and Galvin started coming to the park six weeks ago. This is their fourth consecutive day here. Desmond says it’s not just about fitness. “The park gives us a great opportunity to get the kids out of the house and away from their phones and video games,” he explains. 10:20 a.m.
Jerlena Gordon is a regular visitor to the park with her dog, Missy. She stops to use the fitness equipment on her walking trail loops. Jerlena says that she enjoys giving her pup exercise, but “Missy is actually walking me.”
Long time park visitor Timothy Williams takes his fitness seriously. He has a regimen of walking and running for about three miles and tracks his activity on his Apple Watch. “The opening of the park was a real gift,” Timothy says. “During the pandemic, most places to get exercise were closed, so this has been great.”
Cousins Roy Johnson (left) and Mack Halt have been coming to the park together for about a year. Mack says they aren’t trying to set any fitness records, but “just keep our hearts pumping.”
Tamika Savage’s grandson, Antonio, loves the slide at the playground. “I’ve been coming here since it opened,” Tamika says. “I’ve brought so many family members here – nieces, nephews and now my grandson. We make use of everything, but the playground and splash pads are our favorites. We have so many family pictures from our times here.”
Dreyvon Mitchell has been training since 2017 as part of the 901 Phenom Football Development and Training program. 901 Phenom provides training resources to athletes who want to get to the next level, with the ultimate goal being college placement. Depending on the season, Dreyvon can be at the park 3-4 days a week training boys in the program.
Arkansas residents Ross and Dallas Sims stopped by the park to have a picnic on the way to a wedding in Knoxville. “We wanted to sample the local cuisine and the restaurant didn’t allow indoor dining due to the pandemic,” Ross explains. “We got our food to go and Googled to try to find a park in the area. We really lucked out in finding this place.”
Alisa Sellers walks the park at least three days a week. “I walk for 30 minutes,” she says. “This is such a nice park and it’s great that the kids have a place to come and play.”
Mariah Kalapu has been coaching rugby for seven years for Memphis Inner City Rugby. The organization brings rugby as a zero-cost opportunity to both schools and kids, breaking down barriers to access so every kid gets a chance to play. Her current team is from Freedom Preparatory Academy, located less than a mile from the park. “We’re here three days a week,” Maria says. “We’re lucky to have the field to ourselves today. We often share it with soccer and football teams.”
Mildred Willis brings daughters Nyla and Autumn to enjoy the park’s amenities while her eldest daughter Marriah practices rugby.
Families take advantage of the playground before dinner.
Deontrea Crafton brings her daughter to the playground at least once a week, often stopping to take photos along the way.
Lakecta Johnson usually comes to the park to walk, but today she’s cooking hot dogs and sausages on one of the grills in the family pavilion to celebrate her grandson’s 13th birthday.