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Chattanooga celebrates opening of BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park

Key Takeaways

  • The BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park in Chattanooga is now open.
  • The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation invested $5 million in the space, including $4.2 million to build it out and $840,000 in a maintenance fund.
  • The space will be shared by students from Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga Preparatory School, Montessori Elementary at Highland Park and residents of the Highland Park neighborhood.

On Monday, May 10, representatives of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation joined staff and students from Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) and Chattanooga Preparatory School, along with Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, to celebrate the opening of the BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park. The ceremony was held in accordance with local COVID-19 guidelines for outdoor events.

Highland Park was selected in response to a proposal organized by the Young Women’s Leadership Academy Foundation, and the project is the first BlueCross Healthy Place in the Chattanooga area. The space sits on land owned by the foundation and is situated near both schools.

“This is the day that we get to give this BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park back to the community,” said Chelsea Johnson, director of the BlueCross Foundation. “This is going to be a central hub for the community ­­— a place for people to come together and be connected.”

The BlueCross Foundation has invested $5 million in the project , including $4.2 million to build out the space and $840,000 for a maintenance fund.

“It was about two years ago almost to the day that we started this process,” said Dr. Elaine Swafford, chief executive officer of CGLA. “I really never dreamed that we’d have a BlueCross Healthy Place. It’s a great partnership with the BlueCross Foundation and we look forward to the Highland Park community coming in and enjoying the space.”

Brad Scott, chief executive officer of Chattanooga Prep, echoed that sentiment. “This park means so much for our young men. We want them to be active, and this space provides that opportunity through our physical education classes, athletic department and just plain old fun. Chattanooga Prep is very thankful and very excited.”

CGLA and Chattanooga Prep students are looking forward to the space being somewhere the community can gather together.  

“The kids can come out and have somewhere to play in their environment and close to their homes,” said CGLA student Siara Thomas. “It’ll be really fun when everyone is out here playing in the neighborhood.”

Chattanooga Prep student Noah Taylor said, “It’s important for kids to play because it’s a chance for them to have fun. Some kids don’t get a chance to do this. This is a new day for the big and little kids to have fun.”

Fun for all

The new BlueCross Healthy Place has a variety of features for students and community members of all ages and abilities.

Amenities in the space include:

  • Accessible play areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12 with ramp access, ground-level play and a soft rubber safety surface
  • Challenge course with obstacles and a precision timing system
  • Fitness station with equipment for aerobic fitness, core fitness and balance
  • Sports field with amphitheater seating for school soccer games and local community games
  • Tennis and basketball courts
  • Walking track
  • Pavilion with picnic tables for school and community gatherings

“This BlueCross Healthy Place provides beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of activity for all children as they progress developmentally through play activities,” said Jennie Sumrell, core community outreach director with the BlueCross Foundation build partner, PlayCore. “Individuals all of abilities and ages can come together to engage in meaningful play experiences and healthy play activity. There is something here for everyone.”

  

The completed space will be shared by the schools and the Highland Park community.  Access hours for residents are:

  • Weekdays – Open to the public sunrise to 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to sunset
  • Weekends/school breaks – Open to the public sunrise to sunset

Community members can schedule team play/practice and events by contacting CGLA at 423-702-7230.

About Amanda Haskew, Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorAmanda joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. Born and raised in Chattanooga, she has a decade of experience in writing for print and the web, as well as digital marketing.

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