Louisville Parks and Recreation has been selected to receive $25,000 as part of the Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge (the Challenge) Spotlight Award. Ten winners and five honorable mentions were selected for their ability to address the need to improve opportunities for all Americans – regardless of income, education or ethnic background – to take an active role in healthy living.
Jefferson Memorial Forest, and its award-winning ECHO (Engaging Children Outdoors) has been highlighted as a Spotlight Award winner for identifying creative partnerships and enacting sustainable and replicable programs that address the unique health issues facing Louisville. The goal of Louisville ECHO is to create opportunities in west Louisville where every resident has access to a safe and healthy environment that increases physical activity, reduces stress, and leads to healthier lives through outdoor recreation and environmental education and stewardship.
Louisville ECHO began in 2008 with seed funding from the U.S. Forest Service to provide multiple nature experiences for 4th grade students at three Title I public schools in west Louisville.
With Louisville Metro support; the continued support of the U.S. Forest Service; multi-sector partners such as the Metro Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness and YouthBuild Louisville; and funding partners, including the Aetna Foundation and Wilderness Louisville, Inc. Louisville ECHO has expanded to include multiple complementary components providing meaningful nature experiences for nearly 2,500 youth annually across multiple ages.
“On behalf of our staff and volunteers at Jefferson Memorial Forest, we thank the Aetna Foundation, APHA, and NaCo for this award in support our efforts to sustain and grow Louisville ECHO,” said Bennett Knox, parks administrator for Jefferson Memorial Forest. “We appreciate this award as it recognizes multi-sector and multi-partner nature of Louisville ECHO whereby all involved are working towards the same goal of creating a healthier, more vibrant, community through access to nature within our urban core.”