For the second year in a row, Kingsport has been designated a Healthier Tennessee Community. Gov. Bill Haslam and the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness CEO Richard Johnson made that announcement in Nashville on Tuesday. Thirteen counties across the state also received the designation.
Kingsport first received the designation in 2016 and is the first location in the state to achieve bronze status under the new bronze, silver, and gold Healthier Tennessee Community criteria.
“We must continue to encourage and enable community-led efforts like the ones we’re celebrating today if we want to improve the health and quality of life of Tennesseans,” Haslam said. “I congratulate these communities on their efforts to improve the health of their citizens.”
ABOUT THE DESIGNATION
The Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative is a grass-roots approach to improving Tennesseans’ health by engaging citizens and local leaders in cities, towns, counties, neighborhoods and college campuses across the state.
To be designated, the communities, such as Kingsport, established wellness committees and developed sustainable community-wide events and activities that support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence. They then tracked and measured outputs and accomplishments of the programs.
The Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative was launched in March 2015 with nine pilot communities, of which Kingsport was one. Today, more than 100 communities, neighborhoods and college campuses are engaged with the program, and 59 have received the designation.
Kingsport achieved bronze status by implementing wellness initiatives in places of work and worship, focusing on health in early childhood, building a robust volunteer coalition and directly engaging more than 10 percent of the community in its efforts.
“Having the unwavering support of the city of Kingsport in our Healthy Kingsport collaborative has been the linchpin in our ability to recruit others to join our health and wellness movement,” said Kandy Childress, executive director of Healthy Kingsport, which is now serving as the incubator of health and wellness strategies for communities in our region and across our state.
LEADING THE WAY
Healthy Kingsport, a nonprofit organization, leads the city’s health and wellness efforts and has consistently been named the most influential community-led, grass-roots population health organization in our state by those in our region as well as other organizations, such as BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Cigna.
The organization’s efforts include promoting wellness (nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco prevention and cessation), enhancing local infrastructure and influencing policies at the state and local level.
“It’s an honor to be part of the Healthy Kingsport collaborative in order to improve the health and well-being of our family members, friends and neighbors,” said City Manager Jeff Fleming. “This designation is yet another milestone in our progress toward improving our health outcomes.”