Pine Apple opens new community walking trail

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 30, 2002

Over 50 people from the community and agencies in Wilcox County and around the state celebrated the opening of the new walking trail at the Pine Apple Community Center Sat. Nov. 9. The walking trail, a model of collaborative success, promotes health and fitness for rural residents by providing a safe and scenic paved walkway in the hilly terrain around the Community Center.

The celebration focused on the importance of working together to improve life for rural Alabama residents and was hosted by Pine Apple Community Center, Learning Center and Mary’s Food and Fashion, outreach ministries served by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Catholic Order has been serving with the Edmundite Missions in rural Alabama for more than 60 years.

Mayor Chris Stone of Pine Apple, who provided welcoming remarks, commended the contributions of the Sisters for the past 20 years, noting the &uot;quality of what you have added to the community.&uot;

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.The walking trail project was spearheaded by Partners in Progress, a local community-based organization. Board member Lucy Tracy, who chaired the project, called it the &uot;little engine that could&uot; for the obstacles overcome during its construction. The project included new landscaping, tables and benches, as well as mile markers. More landscaping and improvements will be added in the future, said Sister Kathy Navarra, S.S.J., who has directed the project since its inception last fall.

Wilcox County Commissioner Mark Curl noted during the ceremony that the project required all agencies and individuals to work together, giving true meaning to the words, &uot;Partners in Progress.&uot;

&uot;What I see right now are all of us together as partners. I am here to thank you all,&uot; Curl said.

Dr. Jake Hataway, with the State of Alabama Department of Public Health, said the walking trail was a &uot;community health in action.&uot;

&uot;We want to take the word out around the state to show you can do when you work together,&uot; said Dr. Hataway, Medical Director for the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention. &uot;This is community health in action: All you have to do is step on it and go.&uot;

Dr. Roseanne Cook, C.S.J. of the Pine Apple Health Center, noted the importance of a walking trail in a community without sidewalks.

&uot;This is a big asset to our patients and will continue to be in the coming years. We’re encouraging all of them to come out here and walk while they are waiting for their appointments.&uot;

Wilcox County Commissioner David Manzie test)fied to the benefits of walking, saying he was on a dialysis machine just a few years ago with a poor prognosis. He began walking just one-quarter mile a day. Now he walks 3 miles a day and is healthier.

The project was funded by a grant from the Robert B. Wood Johnson Foundation as a health initiative for women in rural communities. &uot;We thought if we focused on women, the whole family would get involved,&uot; said Dr. Bonnie Sanderson, with the University of Alabama-Birmingham Health System, who helped write the grant and secure funding through the university. The project recently received a grant from the ALA-TOM Resource Conservation and Development Area for landscaping and lighting.

The walking trail is available to the public every day.