Fitness Trail Proposal Receiving National Attention
Dr. Felicia Cavallini

A comprehensive year-long study by a Limestone College physical education professor and her students that could lead to a fitness trail throughout the Gaffney community is garnering interest by two national organizations.

Limestone Physical Education Professor Dr. Maria Felicia Cavallini recently spoke at two national conferences about the project, which was led by her and her students, and how it addresses needs of the community.

The proposed fitness trail will wind its way throughout the community, including the Gaffney residential historical district, the Limestone campus, downtown Gaffney, and the Gaffney Manufacturing Mill Village. The study for the project has received full funding by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

In mid-February, Dr. Cavallini spoke about the project at the 15th annual meeting of the American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences (AABSS) in Las Vegas, NV. AABSS is an interdisciplinary professional organization for college and university personnel across the country.

From March 13-17, Dr. Cavallini was in Boston, MA as a guest speaker for the 2012 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) National Convention and Exposition. With 20,000 members, AAHPERD is the largest organization of professionals supporting and assisting professionals involved in physical education, recreation, fitness, sport and coaching, dance, health education and promotion, and all specialties related to achieving a healthy and active lifestyle.

Earlier, Dr. Cavallini presented details about the fitness trail project to the regional AAHPERD Convention in San Diego, Calif., the Diabetes Division of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in Mount Pleasant, DHEC in Columbia, and the Rotary Club in Gaffney.

The purpose of the initiative is to improve the health of Cherokee County residents. "According to the 2008 South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, there are a few disturbing health challenges in Cherokee County," said Dr. Cavallini. "Sixty percent of those surveyed were deemed overweight, 41% had high cholesterol, 29% led a sedentary lifestyle, and 83%---the highest in the state-eat less than five fruits and vegetables a day. Physical activity trails like the one to be established here have proven to enhance our everyday lifestyle through exercise. Our trail will be better than most because walkers and runners will encounter a beautiful college campus, a historical neighborhood, a forward-transitioning downtown, and an old mill neighborhood that represents an important piece of local, regional, and national history."

For over a year, Dr. Cavallini and her students diligently mapped the trail route by walking various areas of the community and utilized assessment tools that categorized streets by qualifiers including conditions and safety of the sidewalks and crosswalks, aesthetics of residential homes and businesses, and overall walkability of the street.

The trail is divided into four zones, each averaging a distance of 2.5 miles in length. The zones are connected to form a nearly 10-mile long trail. This flexibility gives walkers the choice of what type of route they want to take. In some sections, the plan is to use already existing sidewalks where appropriate.

  • Zone 1 (1.3 miles) takes the walker along the perimeter of Limestone College, and includes hills, a stream, and the well-known Quarry.
  • Zone 2 (5.9 miles) encompasses the historical neighborhood and many of its homes that were built in the late 1800s or at the turn of the 20th century in a number of architectural styles.
  • Zone 3 (0.6 miles) winds through downtown Gaffney and its commercial areas of restaurants and retail shops.
Zone 4 (1.8 miles) is devoted to the mill neighborhood, a once vibrant and thriving area of the community that is in the process of being revitalized.