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BlueCross Healthy Place at Morningside Park will enhance community life near downtown Knoxville
By Lauren Miller

$5.5 million investment will benefit students, families and senior citizens

KNOXVILLE — The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation is bringing a BlueCross Healthy Place to Morningside Park in Knoxville.

The 36-acre park, located adjacent to downtown, is surrounded by university and multi-family apartments, as well as a high-rise community for seniors, including those with disabilities. Two elementary schools are also within walking distance. The park sits on a city bus line, making it easily accessible to visitors from other areas of the city.

BlueCross Healthy Places strengthen communities across Tennessee by providing neighbors with spaces for connection and healthy activity.

The BlueCross Foundation is providing $4.6 million for the project build and an additional $920,000 for a maintenance fund, bringing the total investment to $5,520,000.

“Morningside Park is one of the largest parks in Knoxville, and we’re hopeful with these much- needed upgrades, more people will be able to enjoy this tree-lined treasure near downtown,” said Sheryl Ely, parks and recreation director for the City of Knoxville. “New playground and fitness equipment will add something for people of all ages to enjoy, and the addition of restrooms will make it a great space for local neighborhood groups to gather. We are excited and appreciative of the grant from the BlueCross Foundation for helping to make this all possible.”

The City of Knoxville applied for the BlueCross Healthy Place grant with assistance from the Legacy Park Foundation. Knoxville-based landscape architecture firm Ross/Fowler created conceptual designs of the space for the submission.

Proposed features for the space, based on community needs, include:

• Multipurpose field with bleachers
• Playgrounds for children ages 2-5 and 5-12
• Challenge course
• 40-yard dash
• Fitness area
• Walking trail
• Two community pavilions

Multipurpose Field

blue cross healthy place field

- The multipurpose field will allow community members to play a variety of sports and host events.
- There will also be bleachers so spectators can enjoy watching games from the sidelines.


blue cross healthy place playground

- The BlueCross Healthy Place will have two play areas: one for children 2-5 and one for children 5-12.
- Both play areas will be fully accessible for children of all abilities with ramp access, ground-level play activities and poured rubber surfacing.

Challenge Course and 40-Yard Dash

blue cross healthy challenge course

- The challenge course is an outdoor fitness destination that allows neighbors to connect while getting fit.
- Designed for older children and adults (ages 13+), it will feature exciting challenges to make fitness fun.

The 40-yard dash will include 2 lanes and a timing system, allowing families, friends and community members to race each other for the best time.

Fitness Area

blue cross healthy fitness area

- Thrive Fitness: The Thrive system allows up to 10 people to work toward their health and wellness goals. There are variable training options (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and multifunctional features to isolate specific muscle groups.
- Fitness Station: The outdoor fitness equipment will provide exercises for core fitness, aerobic fitness and balance.

Walking Trail

blue cross healthy place walking trail

- A walking trail will surround the BlueCross Healthy Place at Morningside Park. Visitors can stop to play at the playground areas or take a break for a quick workout at the fitness station.

Community Pavilions

blue cross healthy place pavilion

- The BlueCross Healthy Place will have two community pavilions, providing covered structures for parties and events.

“When our team received the proposal for a BlueCross Healthy Place at Morningside Park, we were impressed and inspired by the diverse groups of residents the space will serve,” said Roy Vaughn, executive director of the BlueCross Foundation. “BlueCross Healthy Places are about bringing communities together and making them stronger – and that includes residents of all ages and abilities. We’re excited that this project will provide additional resources for our neighbors in Knoxville.”

BlueCross Healthy Place projects are currently underway in Chattanooga and Nashville. Four BlueCross Healthy Places are open in Memphis, Huntland, Kingsport and at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, Tenn. Although these spaces are open, they are abiding by local guidelines for access instituted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the BlueCross Foundation will announce 10 additional BlueCross Healthy Place projects in 2021.

About BlueCross® BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.5 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary of bringing peace of mind to its members and local communities. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's news center at About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation provides funding for the BlueCross Healthy Place program, which creates active, healthy spaces across Tennessee.

Published October 12, 2020

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