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Join our effort to make Kingsport a model city for healthy living

Aiesha Banks • Feb 13, 2020 at 10:30 PM

Where’s the best place in Tennessee to live if you want to maximize your chances of living longer? Please help me make Kingsport that place.

As the new executive director of Healthy Kingsport, my passion for the mission statement runs deep. I want to bring to Kingsport developed, implemented, and facilitated new programs while building strong partnerships and relationships with the community.

In my new role as executive director, I will work directly with our committed board of directors, staff, clients, community partners, and all sponsors to continue to amplify the health and wellness in the community. I will take the helm of health and wellness as it enters a rigorous strategic planning process designed to both bring the organization into its next chapter and enhance its work. I will continue to maintain the operational strength of the organization to ensure the highest quality of program delivery.

I am a longtime resident of Kingsport and enjoy all the fun activities that the city has to offer. I have two children, Nathan and Justice, and one fur baby, Cam. I enjoy running, hiking, reading, and spending time with my family.

I am excited to continue working in the nonprofit sector in this new role. The sustainability of our nonprofits is so critical to the success of our communities in the state. My experience and education will be a great asset to the organization and will build off of the significant momentum that Kandy Childress has already put in place for us.


In the early years, a group of committed community members who saw the urgency associated with the adverse health trends in our community focused solely on obesity, physical activity, and tobacco use. Members of this group dedicated themselves to changing our community’s direction. The purpose was to aim to promote policy, systems, and environmental changes to prevent obesity in our community.

Upon being awarded a grant in 2010, several folks representing different organizations traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend a training seminar. The seminar spurred the folks to create a community action plan around health and wellness in Greater Kingsport. In 2011, this group and the action plan formed the foundation for Healthy Kingsport.

Over the next several years, thanks to Kandy Childress and Heather Cook, past executive directors, and Roger Mowen, board chair of Healthy Kingsport, the organization continued to improve on services provided, offer additional services, and began defining how and why those services benefit the community.


Since our founding, Healthy Kingsport has sought to improve the human condition in the Kingsport area by providing healthy opportunities to individuals and families. Through hard work, we have achieved success. Despite our success, more individuals and families than ever are struggling to maintain or improve their health. Today, in Sullivan County, 72.9% of adults are overweight or obese, our community is below average when it comes to physical activity, and 26% of adults use tobacco. The demand for programs and services provided by Healthy Kingsport is higher now than at any time since our creation. Our mission is to create a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure, and influencing policy.

One of Healthy Kingsport’s goals is to provide citizens with education in the health industry. Many people want to be healthy but lack the knowledge of how to get there.

Healthy Kingsport will assist citizens who need and want guidance to Live Sugarfreed: Live Sugarfreed is taking on the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes by encouraging people to drink water or other, healthier beverages instead of those that contain sugar.

Tobacco cessation: Tobacco cessation is the process of discontinuing tobacco smoking or vaping.

Physical Wellness (Walker Tracker): The goal of this challenge is to, as a community, collectively log 3 million miles of physical activity over the course of a year. These miles can be any physical activity such as swimming, hiking, biking, and even gardening!


We know our mission is ambitious and will not be accomplished overnight. We also know from experience that we must change too. The ways of the past must be enhanced to achieve greatness in the future. This will take time. Using new approaches, we will increase our performance within promoting wellness, improving infrastructure, and influencing policy that is a better fit for our community.

We know this will not be easy. Significant accomplishments never are easy. With hard work and innovation, we will succeed in our hope to transform communities one household at a time. Join us to accomplish our mission.

So, the question is, where’s the best place in Tennessee to live if you want to maximize your chances of living longer? Could you help me make Kingsport that place?

Aiesha Banks is the executive director of Healthy Kingsport She can be reached at abanks@healthykingsport.org.