Carthage, Tenn. – Smith County residents have a new option for fun, free activity:  the improved walking track at Union Heights Elementary is now available for public use. The project is the result of a Tennessee Department of Health Rural Access to Health and Healthy Active Built Environments grant recently awarded to Smith County.

This grant provided $10,000 to increase physical activity opportunities within Smith County.  A portion of this funding was given to Union Heights School to make improvements to an existing walking path on school property. Originally built five years ago, the existing path had been washed out by rain and was in dire need of repair. The grant plan initially called for repair using a new layer of crush and run gravel, but thanks to the generosity of UHS parent Phillip Slagle, UHS was able to pave the track with asphalt.

“Union Heights faculty, staff and students are grateful for their upgraded walking track and want to give a big thank you to Phillip Slagle for taking his personal time to pave it,” says Wendolyn Kittrell, principal at Union Heights Elementary. “We would also like to thank the Smith County Health Department, Coordinated School Health and Mayor Michael Nesbitt for choosing Union Heights for this wonderful opportunity that not only benefits our students and staff, but also the community around our school.”

As the center of activity for the Rome community, UHS is uniquely positioned to be able to offer services and facilities that otherwise may not be available in a small, rural area. The updated walking track not only allows for more community members to focus on their physical health, it also allows children to exercise during school hours at recess, P.E. and unstructured physical activity times during the day.  Community members are invited to use the newly-paved walking track at UHS outside of normal school hours and when not in use for school-sponsored events or activities.