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Connecting neighbors in Huntland at the next BlueCross Healthy Place

The BlueCross Healthy Place program is expanding across Tennessee with the addition of its first 2019 project, the renovation of Huntland City Park. The park is located in the town of Huntland, a small rural community slightly north of the Tennessee-Alabama state line with a population of just over 800.

Community members were interested in building a new playground in the park and began working to raise money locally. They also applied for a grant to fund the project from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. Vice Mayor Ann Gardner formed a committee and led the effort.

This rendering represents the original playground request community members submitted with their proposal.

“Our committee worked for more than two years, and we’re so grateful. This is going to mean so much to our community – now and in the future. We hope it will help our town grow and prosper,” she says.

The Huntland proposal was one of more than 30 the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation team considered before selecting three projects to fund in 2019.

“We’re excited about this partnership with the town of Huntland,” says Scott Wilson, BlueCross director of community relations and health foundation. “The project will improve the quality of life for this community for years to come, and we look forward to working with residents to make this vision a reality.”

“Our first BlueCross Healthy Place is underway in Memphis, and we are proud our second park shows we are here for small towns in Tennessee, as well.”

More than a playground

The BlueCross Healthy Place at Huntland City Park will house a newly constructed, fenced playground with plenty of seating – just as community members requested. It will feature accessible equipment designed for children of all abilities and meet the criteria for a national demonstration site for inclusive play.

The playground at the BlueCross Healthy Place at Huntland City Park will have equipment designed for children of all abilities.

We’re also building more than that.

At the official unveiling ceremony, Wilson told enthusiastic town residents, “When we visited Huntland last year, we saw the space and realized it could be more than a playground.”

The new basketball court will provide residents of all ages with a space for connection and recreation.

The new BlueCross Healthy Place will also include multiple additional features to ensure visitors of all ages can enjoy the space. The project scope includes an upgraded pavilion to provide community members with a place for celebrations and gatherings. When complete, the park will also have a new basketball court with bleachers, outdoor fitness equipment for cardio, core and balance exercises, and a new walking track, as well as additional parking, drinking fountains, grills, picnic tables and sway benches.

The park will also include outdoor fitness equipment for a variety of exercises, complete with instructional signage.

And the foundation will earmark funds for the park’s ongoing care and maintenance.

“During our initial site visit, we were impressed with how central the park was to the town and how important the area’s history was to its residents,” Wilson says. “We are excited that the BlueCross Healthy Place at Huntland City Park will become part of the town’s history in the years to come.”

BlueCross Director of Community Relations and Health Foundation Scott Wilson, Huntland Mayor Dolton Steele and Vice Mayor Ann Gardner sign paperwork to start the project.

Huntland Mayor Dolton Steele adds, “We are grateful to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, and we hope the BlueCross Healthy Place at Huntland City Park will be a gathering place not only for town residents, but also for our neighbors in surrounding areas.”

Creating spaces that bring neighbors together

BlueCross Healthy Places demonstrate our commitment to give back to the people and communities we serve by providing neighbors with spaces for connection and healthy activity. At each BlueCross Healthy Place, new relationships will form, strengthening the bonds that form the backbone of our communities.

These projects and partnerships with communities, including Huntland, will help our neighbors across Tennessee live happier, healthier lives.

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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