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Whitehaven input fuels BlueCross BlueShield's David Carnes Park revamp

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 8/8/2019 Max Garland
a sign over a grassy area with trees in the background: The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced in 2018 it would pump $5.4 million into revamping the David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. A grand reopening ceremony will be held Saturday. © Max Garland / The Commercial Appeal The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced in 2018 it would pump $5.4 million into revamping the David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. A grand reopening ceremony will be held Saturday.

An overhauled David Carnes Park in Whitehaven celebrates its reopening Saturday, featuring several play areas, a splash pad and an obstacle course all designed with accessibility in mind.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced in 2018 it would pump $5.4 million into the revitalization of the 9-acre park near the corner of Auburn Road and Whitehaven Lane. It’s Tennessee’s first park that is part of the BlueCross Healthy Place program.

a statue of a blue bench © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

The foundation selected David Carnes Park after seeing how committed the Whitehaven community was to the park and hearing they wanted more resources there, said BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee public affairs manager John Hawbaker. Whitehaven residents made their voice heard throughout the planning process.

a group of people walking down a dirt road: The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced in 2018 it would pump $5.4 million into revamping the David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. A grand reopening ceremony will be held Saturday. © Max Garland / The Commercial Appeal The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation announced in 2018 it would pump $5.4 million into revamping the David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. A grand reopening ceremony will be held Saturday.

Some ideas like a dog park and a baseball field were scrapped in favor of a larger park pavilion and a multipurpose field, said Scott Wilson, director of community relations and health foundation for BCBS of Tennessee.

“It really is custom to what the community asks for,” he said. “We will fund the program that works for that community.”

There were frequent park walkers who said its paths had fallen into disrepair, so the foundation made it a point to enhance the walking experience, Wilson said. Elementary school students also had a say in the process.

“We actually did an exercise at Whitehaven Elementary where kids drew their dream playground, so we took features from that,” Hawbaker said.

The park’s playground has a section catered toward children ages 2 to 5, while the other half is focused on children ages 5 to 12 with greater heights and more challenging obstacles, said Kent Callison, director of marketing at GameTime, which manufactured the new playground equipment at the park. The BlueCross Healthy Place space has ground-level playground equipment that children can access regardless of mobility needs, he said.

a group of people sitting at a table with a blue umbrella: A playground section for children ages 2 to 5 is among the features of the new David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. © Max Garland / The Commercial Appeal A playground section for children ages 2 to 5 is among the features of the new David Carnes Park in Whitehaven.

“That was a priority for the community, a space everyone can enjoy regardless of ability,” Callison said.

The park is also designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, Hawbaker said. The challenge course, for example, offers an “intense exercise opportunity” for everyone, he said.

GameTime developed the challenge course with the help of NFL teams, Callison said, mimicking what’s seen in an NFL combine workout to test for attributes like speed, agility and strength. He added that it has obstacles familiar to those who watch the television series “American Ninja Warrior.”

“It remains a big draw for families who want to stay active together,” Callison said. “It’s fun.”

The walking trails feature “play pockets” with elements children can interact with. Children may grow bored when walking long trails, Callison said, so being able to encounter new equipment along the trail makes it more enjoyable for them, too.

a group of people in a park: People in Whitehaven can cool off at the splash pad at the revitalized David Carnes Park in Whitehaven. © Max Garland / The Commercial Appeal People in Whitehaven can cool off at the splash pad at the revitalized David Carnes Park in Whitehaven.

The foundation is going to be developing more spaces throughout Tennessee as part of the BlueCross Healthy Place program, giving around $7.5 million annually to projects that fit the cause, Wilson said.

The Saturday grand opening of the new space will feature food, games and prizes, Wilson said.

Max Garland covers FedEx, logistics and health care for The Commercial Appeal. Reach him at max.garland@commercialappeal.com or 901-529-2651 and on Twitter @MaxGarlandTypes.

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This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Whitehaven input fuels BlueCross BlueShield's David Carnes Park revamp

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