Thursday, February 22, 2018

The people and visitors of the City of Vicksburg will have a much better path to fitness because a project to improve the walking trail at City Park is complete. The community is invited to a ribbon cutting to unveil the trail and participate in the inaugural walk scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at City Park, 902 Lee Street.

Improving parks and recreation facilities and amenities are shared goals between the City and Project CHANGE - a policy, systems, and environmental strategy initiative implemented by My Brother's Keeper, Inc. (MBK), that aims to promote healthy living and use of public community facilities that are safe and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. The City of Vicksburg wants people to use the parks for recreation and fitness so families will be encouraged to exercise.

MBK is working with community partners not only in Vicksburg, but also in Southwest Mississippi River Region counties to increase the number of recreation areas with improved recreational/physical activity amenities this year. In the spring, MBK met and collaborated with Vicksburg officials and Shape Up Vicksburg to educate them on the health effects of physical activity and plan activities to inform the community about increased opportunities to engage in physical activity. And, the City of Vicksburg welcomed the opportunity to partner to improve community health.

"Vicksburg has a mayoral health council that has the same goals for healthy living and fighting obesity," said Mayor George Flaggs. "Plus, we want to promote the use of public parks. I'm very proud of the Vicksburg and MBK partnership, so it's refreshing for a nonprofit to help us."

MBK awarded the City of Vicksburg a $25,000 grant to help fund improvements to the walking trail at City Park. The City Park Walking Trail Improvements Project called for resurfacing of the quarter-mile track and replacing old gravel with a smooth surface that is safe for walking and jogging. The Vicksburg Mayoral Health Council (which includes Shape Up Vicksburg) will host community walks and promote fitness for all generations. Marcia Weaver, Special Projects Director, said the city did not have the funds to pave the walking trail after completing the skate park in 2013. To compliment the newly paved trail, City Park includes a municipal swimming pool, softball fields, a playground area, parking and lighting amenities,and a pavilion that is heavily rented on weekends.

In the meantime, wellness will be the main attraction on Aug. 19 at City Park during the trail unveiling and inaugural walk. Residents will be able to do more than walk on the newly renovated trail because Shape Up Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Mayoral Health Council will conduct free health screenings and exercise sessions under the shade of the park pavilion.

Another trail project is in the works as well. The City has applied for a $100,000 Recreational Trails grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to build a new walking trail at Halls Ferry Park and for $30,000 in additional funding from MBK to provide trail amenities such as benches, ADA compliant water fountains, and stretching and exercise equipment. If awarded, these funds, along with the City’s match of $41,900 will bring the total cost of this trail project to $171,900.

Learn more about the objectives and strategies of Project CHANGE and My Brother's Keeper, Inc. at Follow the initiative on Twitter @ProjectChangeMS and on Facebook.