By Louie Graves
Even with temperatures in the high 90s during Thursday afternoon school recess, there were dozens of students walking — and one even running — along the long serpentine fitness trail which winds along on the north third of the Nashville Elementary School campus.
The trail is black hotmix asphalt, eight-ft. wide and is a half-mile long by the time it finishes twisting back to the school’s side-door entrance.
The project was paid for with contributions of $10,000 each from the city of Nashville and from the school district, and a $30,000 grant from the State Department of Education.
School counselor Vanessa Keaster spotted the availability of the grant in a bulletin from the State Department of education. She contacted persons she thought might be interested and able to help.
A former teacher at the school and a member of a community health coalition joined forces with Keaster to ‘write‘ the grant. Morgan Howard taught fifth grade at the school until last May; Deb Bolding is a grant specialist who is involved in healthy community projects such as the Farmers’ Market. Howard said she had a special interest because she is a physical education major.
Together the women successfully wrote the grant. The major share came from the State Department of Education and it required local donations of at least half of the project. Nashville schools and the city of Nashville each kicked in $10,000 to make that happen.
The trail has been open for about two weeks, but it is not quite complete. There is one more short stretch to be done, then the trail will connect with the city’s sidewalk complex which will eventually connect to the Nashville City Park.
Students who walk the trail will be eligible to participate in the park’s 100-mile club, and Howard said that the students were enthused about that.
A main aim of the project is to encourage increased physical activity by the students. During the day, the trail will be reserved for students and school staff, but during non-school hours the public is encouraged to use it.
Keaster says that there may be future grant projects on the horizon.