Kingsport recognized for its "healthy" efforts

Matthew Lane • Mar 2, 2019 at 7:30 AM

KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport received a trio of awards last week for its efforts to improve the health and well-being of its citizens.

The honors came from the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to enabling and encouraging Tennesseans to lead healthier lives. Last week, the foundation designated 33 counties, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and college campuses as Healthier Tennessee Communities at the organization’s gala event in Franklin.

An additional 17 awards highlighting outstanding achievements by individuals and communities were presented at the Graystone Quarry event. Here are three awards Kingsport received:

Gold status: The highest honor awarded to participating communities. Kingsport is the first city in Tennessee to receive this award. The Model City previously achieved its Healthier Tennessee Community designation in 2016 and rose to Bronze level status last year.

Community of the Year: Kandy Childress, executive director of Healthy Kingsport, said this recognition demonstrates the power of the city’s collaboration efforts.

“For those who believe in the effort enough to contribute public and private sponsorship dollars as well as the countless number of volunteers who work alongside us to really change the trajectory of our health and well-being,” Childress said.

And the efforts are working across the state since Tennessee climbed from the 45th healthiest state to 42nd during the last three years.

“You don’t do that unless there’s some kind of concerted effort going on in all of the counties (across the state),” Childress said.

Top Small Starts Community: This award was in recognition of Healthy Kingsport’s efforts to improve nutrition, promote physical activity and reduce tobacco use throughout the city.

“These communities and volunteer leaders understand the importance of health and wellness and are working to make it an integral part of life in their counties, cities, towns, neighborhoods and on college campuses,” said Richard Johnson, CEO of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness. “As we continue to do this, community by community, we will make this a healthier Tennessee.”


The Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative is a grassroots approach to improving residents’ health by engaging people at the grassroots level across the state. The Governor’s Foundation launched the Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative in March 2015 with nine pilot communities. Today, nearly 100 counties, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and college campuses are engaged with the program, and 33 have received the designation.

To be so designated, the communities establish wellness committees and develop sustainable communitywide events and activities that support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence. They then track and measure accomplishments to meet the goals of the programs.

Communities achieve bronze, silver, and gold 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 the community in their efforts.

For more information about Healthier Tennessee, visit www.healthiertn.com.