In 2009, the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA was awarded a Pioneering Healthier Communities grant to reduce barriers for healthy behaviors. Pioneering Healthier Communities is a program of the CDC and YMCA’s Activate America that supports environmental changes that will facilitate healthy lifestyle. Activate America is the YMCA’s response to the nation’s health crisis- a collaborative approach to reducing behavior that leads to poor health outcomes. Through community involvement and partnerships, the program seeks to increase opportunity for physical activity and healthier food choices for all citizens.
After receiving the grant, a “dream team” was assembled with members of several local organizations, including: Kingsport Tomorrow, United Way of Greater Kingsport, Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, Sullivan County School System, Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Wellmont Health Systems, Kingsport City Schools, Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman, Indian Path Medical Center, and Holston Medical Group. The team attended an Activate America training seminar in Washington DC in early 2010 and subsequently created their community action plan. Program goals include becoming appointed as a committee of the city of Kingsport, increasing accessibility to healthy foods, increasing use of active non-motorized transportation, engaging employers in workplace wellness programs, collaboration with community partners that are also focusing on active living and improved nutrition, and completing community needs assessments.
In summer of 2011, the organization changed its name to “Healthy Kingsport,” to create a more local affiliation. Healthy Kingsport was also recognized by the City of Kingsport as a Wellness Infrastructure and Policy Committee. Healthy Kingsport’s mission is to create a sustainable community culture of healthy living by promoting awareness, influencing policy, and enhancing infrastructure. The organization’s vision is a community where healthy living is the norm.
Most recently in 2014, Heather Cook has become the Healthy Kingsport Director and has already brought so much to the table for the bright future of this community collaboration.
The Y looks forward to continuing the journey in making our community healthier!
Visit healthykingsport.org for the most up to date information on this exciting movement!