SEBRING — When a recent health survey showed that 20.7 percent of residents in Highlands County are obese, 26.2 percent don’t exercise and residents have above-average rate of diabetes, a program director at the YMCA in Sebring looked for ways to combat that.
David Scheck said the YMCA wants to build a physical fitness trail and a horticultural learning center on the northeast side of the property to help residents become healthier.
To raise the estimated $20,000 to build the trail and the center, Scheck said he has applied for a grant from General Mills. If that’s not successful, he will seek money from the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee.
The trail, which would be open to the public at no charge, would be about a half mile long and include pull up bars, push-up platforms, sit-up stations, climbing walls, ladders, up and over’s, monkey bars, climbing ropes, balance beams and 10 permanent disc golf stations.
In order to make it more suitable for use during the summer months, Scheck said, when it’s built, “I plan to keep as many trees there as possible. It won’t be as hot. For the most part, I’m going to keep it as natural as possible and keep the trees for the shade.”
Another aspect of the plan is the horticultural learning center, he said.
That idea came from survey results showing that 72.4 percent of the population in Highlands County does not eat a significant amount of fruits and vegetables, he said.
The center will “educate children how to grow fruits and vegetables and why it is crucial to make them part of your every day diet,” Scheck said.
Scheck said the children will be encouraged to take the information home and promote eating more fruits and vegetables to their parents.
Although the horticultural program would largely be used by children involved with YMCA activities, the Boys and Girls Club, which also has programs at the YMCA, may also use it, he said.
Scheck said money is the main issue, but the YMCA also must get permission from the city of Sebring to use the city-owned land. The YMCA leases the land for a nominal price from the city, he said.