Jennifer Pharr Davis Headlines HealthFest 2016


Former Appalachian Trail record-holder Jennifer Pharr Davis gave the keynote address at HealthFest 2016, discussing the life lessons she learned during her three thru-hikes of the trail.

Pharr Davis noted that each year approximately 3,000 people begin the Trail in Georgia, but only 25% finish several months and 2,189 miles later in Maine.

“My mom thought it was the most irresponsible thing I had ever done,” she told Upper School students about her first hike, after graduating from college. “She wanted me to get a job… the irony is, the Trail is what taught me about vision and direction.”

Among her stories, Pharr Davis told students that during her hikes she learned about goals and direction, being honest and forthright with others, and the power of physical forward motion to process emotional confusion and restore hope. She also noted that starting with a single step is what ultimately led her to three thru-hikes, a record, traveling the world, opening her own company, and writing books.

Following Pharr Davis’ keynote, Upper School students were able to participate in several workshops facilitated by Charlottesville community partners, from “Adolescent Emotional Issue” with U.Va. psychiatry residents Dr. Michael Heck and Dr. Toral Desai to “Personal Safety in Unsafe Situations” with Detective Brian O’Donnell of the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) agency.

Representatives of Bend Yoga, U.Va.’s ADAPT Peer Educators, local emergency medical services, the Blue Ridge Poison Center, and more were also on hand to lead sessions.

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