Patsy Shropshire describes herself as a firm believer in the power of exercise.
And why wouldn’t she be? She’s got the testimony of cancer and other illness survivors, who swear by their participation in marathons, group classes, and other forms of strength building.
Plus, the tiny detail of being a certified physical therapy doctor specializing in wellness and illness prevention.
Her interest in healthy living sparked Shropshire’s brainchild, WWB (Women With Balls) Wellness – a community program focusing on exercise and nutrition primarily for ages 50 and older – and now, The Wellness Connection.
The Wellness Connection project would turn a weedy, ant-hilled vacant area at the south end of the W.T. White High School track into a “multi-generational, multi-ability” outdoor exercise area. So far, fundraising totals more than $20,000 toward a $50,000 goal.
“[The outdoor area] promotes the idea that a public high school track should serve a dual purpose – that of enhancing the health and wellness of not only students but also, during non-school hours, that of the surrounding community,” Shropshire said. “My vision is that this project serves as a test model for other public high schools.”
“Even before the sun rises, the track is a gathering place for the community with walkers, joggers, and adult athletes.” -Patsy Shropshire
Shropshire got the idea, she said, from more than 20 years of living next to W.T. White. She’s using the track by herself and with the WWB Wellness group.
Her plan would improve the track with seating, a safe sports surface, shade, water, and maintenance-free exercise equipment.
“High school athletes can train here, and it’s an ideal spot for physical education classes, group yoga, and tai chi classes,” she said.
Those classes would ideally take place in the spacious opening planned for the center of the area – a space that teachers could also use, she said. It could serve as a place to take students outside for lessons as well as for cheerleaders and dance team members to practice.
The W.T. White administration is on board.
“White High School is committed to increasing health and wellness for students and staff, and the planned Wellness Connection at our track will be an excellent component,” principal Elena Bates said. “It’s a fantastic way to reinforce the concept of healthy movement to all our students – not just our sports teams and physical education classes – and also our teachers and staff. This collaboration is a great example of school and community coming together.”
Shropshire is looking forward to community members benefitting from the area more.
“Students at W.T. White make wonderful use of the track, but equally impressive is the motion that occurs on the track when all of the students are gone,” she said. “Even before the sun rises, the track is a gathering place for the community with walkers, joggers, and adult athletes.”