The Mary Black Rail Trail, a two-mile trail just south of Downtown Spartanburg, is often busy with runners, walkers, and bicyclists, giving locals the chance to enjoy the outdoors. It provides a place for residents to exercise safely and get to know Spartanburg.
Cynthia and Jamie Olley of Spartanburg often walk the Rail Trail while their daughter takes swimming lessons at the YMCA of Greater Spartanburg.
“While she’s swimming, we walk,” Cynthia said.
Spartanburg residents may have some new health and wellness initiatives on the horizon thanks to the announcement of a new collaborative of the Mary Black Foundation and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
The two organizations recently announced the creation of Live Healthy Spartanburg. Its mission is to achieve health equity and improve health outcomes for all Spartanburg County residents.
Live Health Spartanburg represents the merging of two existing, longstanding local health collaboratives – The Road To Better Health and Spartanburg’s Way to Wellville – into one unified initiative designed to address the Spartanburg community’s health needs.
“In 2015, we were delighted that Spartanburg was chosen as one of the five communities across the country to be a part of ‘The Way to Wellville initiative,” Kathy Dunleavy, former President and CEO of the Mary Black Foundation said. “Spartanburg is very unique in our ability to work together for the good of the community. Blending Way to Wellville and Road To Better Health into Live Healthy Spartanburg is a perfect next step in our goal of striving for health equity for all of our residents.”
Spartanburg resident Alexa Hudson enjoys the outdoor spaces Spartanburg offers and hopes to see healthier food options come from this new initiative.
“Having spaces for people to be able to go out and exercise is really important,” Hudson said. “And I would enjoy a boutique salad chain or other good, healthy restaurants.”
More healthy food options are also something the Olley’s would like to see in Spartanburg.
Extending the Mary Black Rail Trail:Eight years in the making, work could finally begin soon
“We would love to see an open kitchen,” Cynthia said. “Even an open community garden.”
Live Healthy Spartanburg has received initial multi-year, leadership-level funding commitments from the Mary Black Foundation and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Additional funding and support from several local organizations committed to community health is expected to soon follow.
The new organization plans to hire a full-time program manager to lead the effort. Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System was asked to serve as the backbone organization for the program, which will be housed from its Community Health department.
“The Road To Better Health and Spartanburg’s Way to Wellville made significant strides toward our ambitious goals related to improving community health outcomes,” Elizabeth Fletcher, Senior Vice President, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System said. “Now, having dedicated funding and staff allocated will put fuel in the engine for these collective efforts.”
Live Healthy Spartanburg will be aligned with Live Healthy South Carolina, a statewide collaborative to improve the health of all South Carolinians.
Ashley Dill is a native of Spartanburg and has been on staff for the Herald-Journal for 14 years. She covers community news and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ashleydill_shj.