GLENN SPRINGS TRAIL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

FUNDING SOURCE: Mary Black Foundation, 2002-2005

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Steven P. Hooker, PhD

The Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF) and Partners for Active Living (PAL) partnered with four community churches in Glenn Springs, SC to implement physical activity programs utilizing the new seven-mile Glenn Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail. The Glenn Springs community is a small, culturally diverse rural area where 22 percent of the population is age 50 and older. The USC PRC conducted an evaluation of the impact of this trail on the local community.

The program’s goals were to:

  • Implement physical activity programs for older adults through Glenn Springs churches
  • Provide community organizations with a template for good physical activity programs
  • Conduct behavioral research to understand what motivates individuals to participate in community or self-directed activities.

PCF presented mini-grants of $1,000 to each of four area churches to schedule a community event on the trail and form a walking group.  Two of the churches reported participation of nine older adults in the bi-weekly walking group.  The church community events drew more than 300 residents. A trail map was developed and distributed to 4,000 community members.  PAL visited with church members and presented health promotion packets with tips on how to get seniors active and how to hike safely on the trail.

The USC PRC conducted telephone surveys of 143 people living within one mile of the trail shortly after the trail opened (and before the programs were implemented) and one year later.  The majority of respondents were 35 to 54 years old.  Findings showed that use of the walking trail increased from 6 to 15 percent over the one-year period.

The Palmetto Trail is open to the public, and the Glenn Spring Passage is maintained by a group of older adult members of the Shiloh Baptist Church.  The walking groups are no longer meeting on the trail.