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Local fitness initiative underway

Citizens of Unicoi County will soon have an inviting opportunity to get active and get healthy.
A coalition of partners from various entities in different parts of Unicoi County have received a $2,500 mini-grant through the Regional Roadmap for a Healthier Appalachian Tennessee. The purpose of the grant is to promote the overall health and economic well-being of citizens of Unicoi County.
As a result, Unicoi Unites Through Fitness has been created to establish such an initiative. The grant was underwritten in part by the Tennessee Institute of Public Health and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The East Tennessee State University College of Public Health also played a major role in facilitating the grant.
The ultimate goal of the program is to “begin changing the perspective of what ‘being active’ is” and to show how practical being more active and healthy can be, according to press release from Tish Oldham, one of the key figures responsible for organizing the program.
Other goals of the program include developing an advocacy group that will work together to support active living initiatives to improve health, educational success, reduce healthcare costs and attract economic development through a healthy, active workforce.
“The health of Unicoi Countians is directly tied to financial well-being as well as overall physical and mental well-being, therefore, the healthier our community becomes, the less financial resources will be directed to recreation, job creation and personal savings,” read the statement on Unicoi Unites Through Fitness. “Unicoi Countians will be able to participate by getting active on their own or in teams to increase their movement and activity, whether at work, home, school, or elsewhere from August through mid-December.”
Unicoi Unites Through Fitness will be designated as the central contact point for information on being active. The ultimate goal is to get active. It can be something as simple as standing instead of sitting, counting steps taken while pushing a shopping cart, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or just going for a walk with coworkers. The focus starts with the simple things.
The program will offer simple tracking sheets that will allow participants to record and receive credit for all physical activities undertaken over a certain period. Those that turn in sheets with exemplary amounts of physical activity recorded will be eligible to be included in drawings for prizes. The prizes include items such as FitBit Activity Trackers, a Mountain Harvest Kitchen Farmers’ Market gift certificate, lunch kits for student participants, Unicoi County Family YMCA monthly memberships and even a bicycle. Tracking sheets as well as brochures and newsletters may be downloaded from The forms can also be found at the Unicoi County Health Department, the Unicoi County Family YMCA, the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center and the Unicoi County Public Library.
The aforementioned website has been specifically set up for individual Unicoi Countians of all ages. It includes resources for specifically addressing workplace activity levels and health initiatives.
On Nov. 15, the inaugural Unicoi Unites Through Fitness 5K Race and Fun Walk will be held. All children residing in Unicoi County from grades kindergarten through fifth grade are encouraged to submit their best artwork and designs for the Movin’! T-Shirt Art Contest. The winning T-shirt design will be printed on the front of the official race T-shirt. The first through third place winners will also have their name placed in the overall drawing for a bicycle in mid-December and will receive a free race T-shirt. Submissions will be accepted for the contest Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.
Folks who have any questions about the 5K are encouraged to call either Ashley Davies at the Unicoi County Health Department at 743-9103, extension 310 or Joe Ebarb of the Unicoi County Family YMCA at 743-3361. Questions about the T-shirt contest or acquiring Unicoi Unites Through Fitness materials can be addressed by Tish Oldham of the Unicoi County Joint Economic Development Board by calling 735-0836. Senior adults with additional questions may call Tonia Cook at the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center by phoning 743-4521.