Go back

Wellness Hub 2024: APSU joins community partners to promote healthy habits

By: Victoria Godinez April 9, 2024


Students from APSU’s School of Nursing lead a children’s hula hoop competition at Burt Elementary School during the 2024 Wellness Hub. | Photo by Madison Casey

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Austin Peay State University (APSU), Burt Elementary School and Clarksville Parks and Recreation teamed up last week to provide the public with health resources and education during the 2024 Wellness Hub: Tigers, Govs and the Community Unite with Food, Fitness, and Fun.

Since 2022, Clarksville Parks and Recreation has hosted Hub events around the city to help bridge resources centered on health and well-being for underrepresented communities. APSU and Clarksville Parks and Recreation first collaborated on the Hub that same year through the Master of Public Health (MPH) program, and in April 2023, the MPH program helped implement the event at Burt Elementary School as part of a three-course service-learning experience.

“The Hub is there to connect community resources,” said Penny Greene, recreation programmer with Clarksville Parks and Recreation. “Teaming up with APSU helped us give families more access to other community partners, health screenings and food options.”

Greene said approximately 360 people, including families and volunteers, attended the event, and there were plenty of resources for everyone to take home.

“Everyone worked really hard to make sure everything went smoothly,” she said. “We handed out 35 meal bags which had recipes and supplies for five different dishes, 35 salsa garden kits and gave free meals to over 300 people thanks to Zaxby’s.”

This year, undergraduate public health program students from APSU, along with their professor, Dr. Tyler Nolting, partnered with Clarksville Parks and Recreation to continue hosting the Wellness Hub at Burt Elementary School. The event saw numerous campus and community partners unite to share resources, information and fun.

“These types of events are not possible without a community effort of individuals who care about others and their well-being,” Nolting said. “I was so fortunate to be on a team of people who truly care about the community, making sure they receive a comprehensive set of resources to thrive and feel of sense of belonging."


Students from the APSU Department of Health and Human Performance provide a variety of health screenings and tests for the community during the 2024 Wellness Hub. | Photo by Madison Casey

Nolting’s students trained for the entire semester to perform healthy heart screenings for adults at the event. They assessed cardiovascular risk factors for hypercholesterolemia, hyperglycemia, obesity, hypertension, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and smoking.

APSU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs helped fund the screenings via a Research and Scholarly Activities Support Grant to purchase some of the critical screening supplies, such as the Cholestech LDX analyzer and lipid and glucose testing cassette cartridges. The Department of Health and Human Performance also helped support the screening supplies by purchasing additional cassette cartridges.

In addition, the APSU Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) and Phlebotomy Technician Programs provided hemoglobin A1C and iron testing, and healthcare providers from the Montgomery County Health Department were on hand to interpret participants’ results and provide referral services.  

Another major partner was an upper-division nursing course taught by Dr. Tasha Ruffin and Mitzi Baker. The class of 52 students worked in groups to implement six stations focused on children’s health and four stations focused on adult health. Each group used educational posters, handouts and fun activities to engage with the community.

“The School of Nursing students focused on cardiac risk factors for the educational component of their presentations,” Baker said, adding that children’s activities were a major component. “With the assistance of Parks and Recreation, we were able to set up a station where children could play ‘going to the doctor.’ Parks and Rec generously provided toy blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, tongue depressors and Band-Aids for this hands-on station.”

Other stations from the School of Nursing offered hands-on learning and giveaways that targeted various aspects of heart health, from healthy eating habits and physical activity to the dangers of smoking and the importance of immunizations. Activities ranged from hula hoop contests to giving practice immunizations to stuffed animals.

“The catchy station titles and fun activities attracted children and parents to learn about their own health, and it was a lot of fun for everyone,” said Dr. Eve Rice, the director of APSU’s School of Nursing. “At the end of the day, we wanted our nursing students to plant seeds for achieving a healthy lifestyle and to develop trust with the families. The nursing profession promotes helping all people, and I saw that in action amongst the students - it made my heart smile.”


Denise Galben and her dance fitness team lead a session at Burt Elementary School during the 2024 Wellness Hub. | Photo by Madison Casey

Several other APSU partners contributed to the event, offering resources from a sensory room and dance fitness sessions to fun and interactive games for children:

• APSU Department of Social Work

• APSU Department of Psychological Science and Counseling

• APSU Athletics

• The Gov mascot

• APSU K-12 Physical Education Teaching

Other partners with stations included the Going Local Initiative, the Montgomery County Health Coalition, UT Extension and UT Nursing, Insight Counseling, Family and Children’s Services, Clarksville Neighborhood and Community Services, the Juvenile Engagement Team and the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center.

Employees from the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard also volunteered during the event to provide take-to-make family meal bags, salsa-making starter kits, free salsa samples with chips and grapes. Other activities included a balloon-making station, a face-painting station, free chicken salads from Zaxby’s in the cafeteria, reading under the stars in the library, a musical petting zoo in the music room, the Matthew Walker Mobile Clinic, the DocGo clinic, Manna Café and an art gallery in the art room.  

“This collaboration allows opportunities where we are able to provide information to our families and help them make connections with many wonderful community agencies,” said Dr. Rachel Funderburk, Burt Elementary School’s principal. “I enjoyed seeing the students use their passports to seek out each area of the event. They were excited to interact with all of the stations and different activities happening within the building. I would like to thank everyone who helped support our event and make it a night children and their families will remember.”

Nolting shared Funderburk’s enthusiasm for the event’s success and its impact on the community members who attended.

“To have been a part of the Burt, APSU and Clarksville communities uniting in caring for and loving others through health promotion and education makes my job as a professor worthwhile and fulfilling,” he said.