YMCA of East Tennessee holds fast to its three-fold mission: to encourage healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. Each of their five locations brims with cardio and weight equipment, as well as digital ActivTrax kiosks, which print out customized workout plans based on each guests' information. Instructors lead group fitness classes for adults and stacks of trench-coat-clad babies disguised as adults, offering sessions that range from kickboxing to water aerobics. In addition to specialized sessions for seniors, they also lead sports programs for kids, such as swimming, basketball, and karate, as well as host a youth-based leader's club.
The folks at YMCA of East Tennessee offer memberships to military families and host programs for kids who have dropped out of school or who have been suspended. Their scholarship program helps families send their kids to the YMCA's fun, safe, character-developing programs no matter their financial circumstances.
Built in 1786, James White's Fort affords glimpses into the frontier lifestyles of America's forefathers while providing education on Knoxville founder and the fort's creator, James White. Each year, more than 10,000 visitors explore the residence, which was restored and opened to the public in 1970. Six cabins and a stockade wall surround the main two-story log house, where guests can experience hands-on interpretations of life as a pioneer by cooking on an open hearth or spinning retro cell-phone-charger cords on an antique loom. Special events held throughout the year keep a continuous line of visitors waltzing across the land of Tennessee's first capital, including an annual celebration of Cherokee heritage.
At LEAF, wayfarers share scenic autumnal views of Lake Eden and Mount Mitchell while exploring outdoor arts events, concerts, and activities. More than 50 area artisans sell their handcrafted wares as patrons unwind at a yoga workshop or accelerate heart rates at a salsa-dancing session. Cheer on bow-wielding tunesmiths in the fiddle contest, or visit the instrument petting zoo and imagine which instrument would be easiest to teach a pet for next year’s contest. Visitors can cast off for aquatic adventures in a canoe or revel in live musical performances. Fight famishment with selections of delicious local fare and craft brews (available for an additional fee) at booths throughout the festival. Parking is available for $5.
Dianna Goodman’s daughter developed an eating disorder in the ninth grade, according to a 2011 article in VERVE magazine. Unfortunately, this occurred in the mid-1990s, when eating disorders were not well understood and help was hard to find. Through her struggles to find health providers or books to help treat her daughter, Goodman found a new passion: preventing other families from facing a similar struggle.
In 2004, Goodman founded T.H.E. (Treatment, Healing, and Education) Center for Disordered Eating, which organizes prevention efforts and gathers support and resources for people with eating disorders. Today, support groups make up the cornerstone of the center. Every week, a group gathers to discuss their steps in recovering from an eating disorder, forming a presence in the community where healing can occur and people can share tips. The center also maintains a local treatment directory for individuals and families affected by eating disorders and sponsors middle-school prevention programs in schools across the region. A free lending library provides information on disordered eating, nutrition, and body image with more than 90 books targeting people of all ages.
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In 1991, the second year Joe Eblen had organized a golf tournament to benefit cystic-fibrosis research, he got wind of a father in crisis. The father’s daughter, a cystic-fibrosis patient, needed urgent treatment at Duke University Hospital, but he had no money to take her. Because he had insurance, he was denied any assistance, despite his financial struggles. In his desperation, he contacted Joe’s tournament organizers, who informed him that they only raised money for research. Joe knew the father needed help now, and paid the family's expenses out of his own pocket.
Recognizing an unaddressed need to aid struggling local families, Eblen organized a garage sale, raised $400, and founded Eblen Charities. The organization started out assisting 300 families and has grown rapidly to serve thousands of families across the state with more than 70 programs. It provides assistance with medical bills, energy costs, and housing aid for families experiencing crises. Eblen Charities also ensures students and teachers have enough food and supplies, and provides grants to families in immediate need.
Each of YMCA of Western North Carolina's five branches and 19 childcare sites remains true to its lasting mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages. Staff members uphold the YMCA’s core values of honesty, caring, responsibility, and respect as they invest in their community’s children and strengthen family bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. They pump up adult fitness regimens with aquatic fitness and boot-camp classes, basketball courts, and personal-training sessions. They’ve also filled their fitness centers with free weights, cardio equipment, and weight machines. When they’re not helping adults trim down waistlines during cardio-dance and aerobics classes, staff members are getting back in touch with their inner children. They stimulate imagination, mental development, and growth as they lead more than 200 programs, including children’s day camps, after-school programs, and dance classes.