The grand opening caps a year-long $5.4 million project to transform a neighborhood park.
Hundreds of residents in the Whitehaven community of Memphis were on hand to welcome back a beloved landmark – David Carnes Park. Renamed BlueCross Healthy Place at David Carnes Park, this nine-acre community green space has been transformed with GameTime play and fitness amenities for people of all ages and abilities, including two playgrounds, a splash pad, Challenge Course®, and other outdoor fitness equipment, walking trails and a community pavilion. The year-long project was made possible by funding from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.
In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said, “It’s a great day for Whitehaven. This place is a total transformation of David Carnes Park. An asset like this will be invaluable to this community.”
GameTime served as the designer and general contractor of the project. “One of the most satisfying things we do as a company is to help communities create fun, active, and healthy places for families,” said Robert Barron, Sr. Vice President with GameTime. “BlueCross is committed to the health and wellness of Tennesseans. We are proud to be their partner in this effort.”
A Place for Everyone to Play
The playground features play areas for ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12 with ramped access throughout the play structures, ground-level play activities like an accessible seesaw and multi-user swings, and poured rubber surfacing for easy accessibility for everyone. The play area was designed using the research found in Me2®: 7 Principles of Inclusive Playground Design® from Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities. Because of its research-based design, PlayCore designated the play area as a National Demonstration Site for Inclusive Play.
Play it Cool
Adjacent to the playgrounds is an accessible splash pad to keep families cool when the weather in Memphis turns hot. Each of the sprayers and water activities is ADA accessible, and the zero-entry design of the splash pad makes it easy for everyone to join in the fun.
Nature-Inspired Play and Fitness
The center of the park is home to a beautiful stand of old-growth trees. GameTime designed walking paths through this mini forest and around the perimeter of the park. Along the lower trail are pockets of play for children to climb and explore. Throughout the upper path, there are pockets with fitness equipment like chest press, chin-up bars, etc. for adults to exercise. The combination of play and fitness pockets with the various walking paths make David Carnes Park a beautiful place for the entire family to be active together in nature. The outdoor fitness areas are designed using research from PlayCore’s scholar network and designated as a National Demonstration Site for adult fitness.
Honoring the Past
During the community planning meetings, we learned from local historians the park was originally named for Memphis’ first African-American landowner - a blacksmith named David Carnes. We also learned from members of the Carnes family, who still live in Memphis, the park used to be the Carnes family homeplace. It was once filled with acres of fruit trees and the sound of the nearby blacksmith forge. To honor Mr. Carnes, GameTime created a historical marker that serves as an imaginative play area. The custom-designed blacksmith shop includes a plaque so future generations will learn about David Carnes and the Whitehaven community.
A Community Gathering Place
One of the most requested features from residents was a place for families to gather for picnic lunches, parties, or special events. A large covered pavilion with a dozen picnic tables is located near the David Carnes historical marker. It provides plenty of room for family gatherings and a great place to rest between play adventures.
A Little Healthy Competition
There is a Challenge Course, a timed obstacle course for children and adults, at David Carnes Park. It includes a 40-yard dash so friends and family can compete with one another. There is also a large multi-purpose field for team sports like soccer or football. The Challenge Course, 40-yard dash and athletic field all feature with professional-grade accessible synthetic turf.
A project like this requires a large and passionate team. Along with GameTime, many partners made the project a reality, including Barge Design Solutions, Cunningham Recreation, and RJR Enterprises. Barge architects prepared the master plan and landscape transformation of the park. Cunningham Recreation is GameTime’s exclusive representative in Memphis. They coordinated the installation of the new play and fitness amenities and worked closely with RJR Enterprises to manage the construction process. With help from local subcontractors, landscapers, and laborers, the park came together through hard work and a commitment to creating a place unlike any other in the state of Tennessee.
From the first community meetings to the grand opening ribbon-cutting, GameTime was on the ground and deeply involved to ensure the project was the perfect place for Memphis - a BlueCross Healthy Place.
GameTime is a leading manufacturer of inclusive playgrounds, custom play spaces, and outdoor fitness equipment. Headquartered in Fort Payne, Alabama, and with distribution around the world, our products combine play research with thoughtful design to create play and recreation spaces for people of all ages and abilities. We bring together the right corporate, civic and nonprofit partners to build healthy, active communities that make the world a better place for children and families.
PlayCore is a purpose-driven company committed to building stronger communities around the world by advancing play and recreation. The company infuses scholarly learning, through its Center for Outreach, Research, and Education, into its comprehensive family of brands. PlayCore combines best-in-class educational programming with the most comprehensive portfolio of play and recreation products and services to create tailored solutions that match the unique needs of each community served.
BlueCross Healthy Places
Strong communities are built on strong relationships, so BlueCross Healthy Places are designed to help neighbors spend time together while enjoying healthy activities. The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation will fund projects in communities of all sizes across the state. There are three other BlueCross Healthy Place projects currently in development, one in the town of Huntland, one at the Miracle Field complex in Kingsport, and one in the Highland Park neighborhood of Chattanooga. Another project will be announced in fall 2019.