Building Community: Health and Our Outdoor Treasures

by David Bailey

Wellness is a goal we all strive for, even if we aren’t terribly consistent in our approach. Most of us need encouragement to participate in the activities that foster good health and wellness. Be it organized sports, a brisk walk each morning with the dog or some yoga or meditation, people need and wish for healthy living.

I spent Sunday afternoon at Carrier Park, along with hundreds of my neighbors, in pursuit of just such a healthy activity, and the chance to give back to a community I love.

Health and Wellness Take Many Forms in Asheville

Our good friends at CarePartners held their 3rd annual Spring Fling 5K for United Way on Sunday. This event not only supports United Way’s mission to improve the education, income and health of our community by raising much needed funds for our work, it also reinforces some important elements for BEING a healthy community. Nearly 100 folks ran, walked, strolled and conversed through the park. We soaked up some much needed Vitamin D and fresh air. We pushed our bodies and minds to go a little bit further or faster than we thought capable. And, spending time outside with friends, new and old, adds more value to the effort!

As I ran the course I was amazed at the diversity of activities taking place at Carrier Park: Frisbee, kites, softball, basketball, roller hockey (serious stuff), “beach” volleyball (right out of Santa Monica, CA), folks paddling down the French Broad, others balancing on ropes strung between trees and, my biggest shocker, costumed people executing a Medieval game I had only witnessed on Big Bang Theory.  

In addition to each of the organized activities were the myriad of individuals and families riding bikes, walking or running – some pushing strollers! Children were everywhere; toddling along or atop little bikes made accessible with training wheels. 

I marvel at how the diversity of our community is so easily reflected in the diversity of our activities… it’s not important what we do but that we do it!

United Way is Investing in a Healthier Asheville and Buncombe County

I’m proud that United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County invests in a diverse array of programs that increase the knowledge, resources, access and opportunities for our neighbors to be healthy. In 2012-13 these investments helped improve the health of 41,367 people right here in Buncombe County. Read more about our “return on investment” from these and other investments here.

I salute all of our friends at CarePartners and everyone else who spent Sunday afternoon at Carrier Park – Living United! Their gifts of time and money are so appreciated. Equally, I applaud them for joining together to strengthen our community by getting out, being active, and modeling the importance of exercise. The Vitamin D we gained by an afternoon in the sun is a bonus!

And finally, let's not forget to give a great big shoutout to the vision and hardwork of the good people at Riverlink. Creating Carrier Park and the related greenways has been no small task and the ongoing legacy this treasure provides for the health of our community is immeasurable. Find ways to support Riverlink on Hands On Asheville-Buncombe's website today.

David Bailey is the President/CEO of United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. He can be reached at or (828) 236-3769.