Grant to help build trails connecting Fort Smith to Arkansas Colleges of Health Education

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 957 views 

Trails are coming to the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education campus thanks to a grant from the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The college received a $216,000 grant from ARDOT’s Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program for use on its campus Wellness Trail, noted a media release on the grant.

“Health and wellness are pivotal components of our mission.  This grant will assist in the development of the Wellness Lake Trail, a walking trail that will connect campus sidewalks to our ACHE Celebration Garden and Wellness Park,” said Kyle Parker, ACHE’s chief executive officer. “In addition to academic buildings, medical facilities, we want to develop portions of our 350 acres to promote physical activities like walking and biking.  We plan to add adult outdoor exercise equipment and playgrounds for children, all to make healthy living accessible and enjoyable.”

The trail will be a convenient addition for the Chaffee Crossing community as well as the students, said Jackie Krutsch, executive director of development. Not only will it be a trail around the lake and to the pavilion and other amenities at the celebration garden and wellness park, it will connect to Fort Smith’s planned trails in the area, which will eventually connect to trails throughout the city, she said.

But the trails will not be purely for recreational purposes, Krutsch said. The Wellness Trail will serve as a teaching environment for the ACHE post-graduate educational programs. Faculty will develop curriculum for the students attending the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) as well as for the School of Occupational Therapy, School of Physical Therapy, and the School of Physician Assistant Studies.

“The park will create authentic learning for student clinical education and field work that will assist community members in a variety of health and wellness activities,” Krutsch said.

She said the trails and the park will allow students a hands-on, real-world learning environment.

“We are excited to provide this unique learning environment for our students that also serves the needs of the entire community,” she said.

Construction is expected to begin on the trails within the next six months. Total cost for The Wellness Lake Trail will be $272,000. Private donations will cover the remaining portion of the trail, said Susan Devero, executive director of communications and community relations.

ACHE is a private, non-profit institution located in Chaffee Crossing.  ACHE’s first college, the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) welcomed its inaugural class of 150 osteopathic medical students in August 2017. Construction is in progress on the 66,000-square-foot facility that will be the home to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant degree programs. ACHE is the first and only private institution in Arkansas dedicated solely to healthcare and wellness.