Healthy Places park opens at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy in Highland Park

BlueCross BlueShield Foundation funds $5 million park for schools, neighborhood

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Nicholas Griffin, 4, laughs as he spins in a chair at the new BlueCross Healthy Place at Highland Park in Chattanooga on Monday, May 10, 2021.

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy and Chattanooga Preparatory School opened a new playground, sports field and pavilion on Monday unlike any other school playground in town.

Funded by a $4.2 million grant from the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation as part of the insurer's Healthy Places initiative, the new 15-acre play and sports complex is designed to draw community residents outside of school hours to use the workout and play facilities.

"This is designed for inclusive play for all ages and all abilities," said Jennie Sumrell, community outreach director for Playcore's Center for Outreach, Research and Education, which built the playground. "It focuses on the needs of the whole child so it provides a lot of sensory and physical opportunities and opportunities for social interaction."

The project includes a pavilion for community gatherings, a walking track and sports courts, 40-yard dash and challenge courses, a multi-purpose field with bleachers and inclusive playgrounds for children ages 2-5 and ages 5-12.