Limestone Professor and Students Map Walking Trail Throughout Gaffney
Brigid Milching (left) Dr. Felicia Cavallini and Deon Rhodes (rear) assess walking conditions on College Drive as they map-out a 10-mile long trail through Gaffney.
A comprehensive year-long study by Limestone College students and their physical education professor could lead to a fitness trail that will wind its way throughout the community, including the Gaffney residential historical district, Limestone campus, downtown Gaffney, and the Gaffney Manufacturing Mill Village.

The study, which was developed by Limestone Physical Education Professor Dr. Maria Felicia Cavallini, has received full funding by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). It has also been shared with health related organizations both near and far. Dr. Cavallini has presented details about it to the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHE/AAHPERD) in San Diego, Calif., the Diabetes Division of DHEC in Mount Pleasant, DHEC in Columbia, and the Rotary Club in Gaffney. She has also been invited to present details to the (AAHE/AAHPERD) convention in Boston, Mass.

The purpose of the initiative is to improve the health of Cherokee County residents. "According to the 2008 South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, there are a few disturbing health challenges in Cherokee County," said Dr. Cavallini. "Sixty percent of those surveyed were deemed overweight, 41% had high cholesterol, 29% lead a sedentary lifestyle, and 83%---the highest in the state-eat less than five fruits and vegetables a day. Physical activity trails like the one to be established here have proven to enhance our everyday lifestyle through exercise. Our trail will be better than most because walkers and runners will encounter a beautiful college campus, a historical neighborhood, a forward-transitioning downtown, and an old mill neighborhood that represents an important piece of local, regional, and national history."

For over a year, Dr. Cavallini and her students diligently mapped the trail route by walking various areas of the community and utilized assessment tools that categorized streets by qualifiers including conditions and safety of the sidewalks and crosswalks, aesthetics of residential homes and businesses, and overall walkability of the street.

The trail is divided into four zones, each averaging a distance of 2.5 miles in length. The zones are connected to form a nearly 10-mile long trail. This flexibility gives walkers the choice of what type of route they want to take. In some sections, the plan is to use already existing sidewalks where appropriate.

• Zone 1 (1.3 miles) takes the walker along the perimeter of Limestone College, and includes hills, a stream, and the well-known Quarry.

• Zone 2 (5.9 miles) encompasses the historical neighborhood and many of its homes that were built in the late 1800s or at the turn of the 20th century in a number of architectural styles.

• Zone 3 (0.6 miles) winds through downtown Gaffney and its commercial areas of restaurants and retail shops.

• Zone 4 (1.8 miles) is devoted to the mill neighborhood, a once vibrant and thriving area of the community that is in the process of being revitalized.