SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Visitors to Savannah’s Lake Mayer Park will soon have a new place to get resources that promote better health and quality of life.

The first of two “Healthy Hub” sites was unveiled at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1 at the park, located at 1850 E. Montgomery Crossroads in Savannah. Community leaders, along with representatives from the Savannah College of Art and Design, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah were in attendance. Lake Mayer is managed by the Chatham County Parks and Recreation division.

“Healthy Hub is a place to go for resources that promote better health and quality of life for all. You can take or add items like books, pamphlets, canned food, and other health resources to share with the community,” said Nichele Hoskins, assistant director of Healthy Savannah. “It’s a little library with a healthy twist.”

The project that became Healthy Hub was the collective brainchild of nine SCAD students – Chaitanya Ahuja, Lara Isaacson, Hanjun Lin, Xichen Liu, Julia Moore, Shruti Narkar, Sarah Prifitera and Fen Zhu – who developed it during their 2020 Sustainable Practices in Design class. Their professor, Scott Boylston, continued working after the class ended to fine-tune the design.

“The SCAD design for sustainability program focuses on preparing students to pioneer organizational change, technological and material innovation, and citizen advocacy,” said Boylston. Collaborating with Healthy Savannah provided the students a real-world opportunity to put those skills to use. Our students are incredibly committed to understanding the health and wellness challenges that residents of Savannah are facing in their daily lives. Their creative efforts focused on designing a concrete way to amplify the self-sufficiency and self-determination of the community as a whole. SCAD ultimately created a whimsical and easily accessible portal for our partner Healthy Savannah to enhance their outreach and education efforts.”

Healthy Savannah commissioned SCAD alum Sydnee Robertson, M.F.A., dramatic writing, 2020; B.F.A., visual effects, 2017; to provide artwork for the project.

“Like little libraries locally and around the country, the Healthy Hub will meet needs exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Hoskins. “I’m excited about featuring the work of artists with Savannah connections that should attract attention.”

The artwork on each Healthy Hub will rotate seasonally to feature other local artists’ interpretation of what a healthy Savannah looks like.

“We’re putting the first Healthy Hub at Lake Mayer and are looking for a second location in another Savannah area park or along the Truman Linear Park Trail,” said Armand Turner, Physical Activity program manager. “We hope those who visit will take items they need or leave healthy items that others might need.”

The first three miles of the six-mile Truman Linear Trail was completed in November. It connects Lake Mayer Park with Daffin Park and is part of Tide to Town, a 30-mile network of protected walking and bicycling trails which will link all of Savannah from the heart of the city to its waterways and marshes, including 62 savannah neighborhoods, 30 public schools and all three major hospitals.

Tide to Town and the Healthy Hub project are both sponsored by Healthy Savannah, in partnership with the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called REACH. That’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health.

The objective of the local grant is to close the gaps in health disparities among priority populations in Savannah and Chatham County in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, and community–clinical linkages.

Other notable milestones to date in the five-year, $3.4 million initiative, which launched in September 2018, are:

• Farm Truck 912, the mobile version of the popular Forsyth Farmers’ Market, has added four new stops and operates six days a week, even during COVID, on a schedule that takes it throughout Chatham County and across all economic strata.
• Farm Truck 912’s Food Farmacy initiative, launched in May 2020, had its largest-ever one-day sales on May 28. The program coordinates with health providers to serve low-wealth participants diagnosed at risk for chronic diet-related diseases.
• The HealthMPowers Corner Store program continues to serve the community healthier food choices during the pandemic and has grown from two to three locations in the past several months, with a fourth set to reopen after the pandemic.
• The HERO (Health Effective Resource Organizations) Database, which launched in January 2020, was compiled to help empower Savannah-Chatham county residents to be their own health advocates. This directory of online health and social services resources lists 883 agency contacts across 57 categories from childcare to substance abuse, food access, clinics and more.

Click here for more information on the Healthy Hub project or call (912) 272-9494.