The Ardmore Institute of Health presented two local organizations with special Partner of the Year awards for their efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. This was the first year the award was presented with Ardmore Family YMCA and Ardmore Parks and Recreation receiving the honors.

AIH Program Director Michelle Sinkler said it was difficult to pick only one partner of the year because both have been such strong allies in achieving the mission of improving the health and vitality of the public in order to live more meaningful lives.

“In order for citizens to make daily healthy lifestyle choices, the opportunity must be made available and encouraged,” Sinkler said. “Ardmore Institute of Health has sought you out — community change agents and community champions — and you have partnered with AIH this year and in years past to provide the opportunity for Carter County Citizens to lead physically active lives.”

Sinkler said the Ardmore Family YMCA has partnered with AIH in a variety of ways over the years, however their help in bringing pickleball to the community is one partnership that stands out in particular. Not only did they open their facility to host the pickleball tournament during the first annual Ardmore Senior Games, the YMCA remained open to those wanting to learn the game for months afterwards.

“If you wanted to learn pickleball and participate in pickleball you could come to the Y and play for free — for six months,” Sinkler said. “They have encouraged that game to grow, and now it’s grown so much that I don’t even know how many people are playing on a weekly basis.”

The second partner of the year award went to Ardmore Parks and Recreation, and once again Sinkler said they have worked together on many programs. However their efforts in bringing the aforementioned Senior Games to town, put the parks department over the edge.

“When Ardmore Institute of Health wanted to bring the Senior Games — games for people who are 50 years of age and older — to Ardmore, we found out the Ardmore Parks and Recreation was also interested in the same thing,” Sinkler said. “For two years now they have been our partner with the Ardmore Senior Games. The first year we had 74 participants and this year we increased that number to around 100. Next year they’ll be taking over the project full-time.”