From the Playground in Tennessee

After several days in CDC labs meeting with scientists who know more about public health than I could ever hope to learn, today we drove up to the small town of McMinnville, Tennessee, to take photos of something a bit easier to get my head around – kids playing on a playground. Not just any playground, but a playground that Hickory Creek Elementary School funded in part through a CDC Foundation partnership with Cargill.

The school is one of 47 elementary schools that have received mini-grants to help improve their physical activity and nutritional programs as a way to combat childhood obesity. While photographing 7-year-olds at play is rough business, the purpose behind the playground is serious enough. Cheryl Kelley, who monitors the health of kids in the county schools, explained that 40 percent of the county’s school kids are obese or at risk of obesity. In kids so young, obesity can lead down the road to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and a whole range of health issues. On this playground, and the others provided through the Cargill mini-grants, play is serious business indeed.


David Snyder is an independent photojournalist.