We love speaking with initiative leaders to learn how to achieve success for an activity program. Last week we chatted with the Program Administrators at Chester County in Pennsylvania and are happy to share their expertise with you!
The WalkWorks ChesCo! program is in its second year and it’s trekking right along to the goal of 5,000 walkers taking 5 billion steps in 2018. The WalkWorks program started as an entry into a competition hosted by the National Association of County Officials, American Public Health Association and the Aetna Foundation, and has advanced the County into the Top 50 of 400 applicants. WalkWorks Program Administrator and County Health Director, Jeanne Casner, said the focus of the program is “to take something as simple as walking, and really leverage that to get more people to be more physically active.”
Walker Tracker is the technical component of a multi-faceted approach that focuses on “improving health, social connectedness, engaging with community and taking advantage of community assets, like established parks and trails,” says Casner. Using a centralized, user-friendly hub for participants and administrators makes the WalkWorks program a success. Want proof? Their most recent Library System Summer Walking Challenge saw 48% of participants reach the step goal!
What have you found easiest about creating and building your Walker Tracker program?
• Walker Tracker has been a great way to track all our steps and walkers. The data downloads are easy to pull that information for a quick snapshot of the progress we’re making on our program. It’s easy to get people to sign up. Registration is less than a minute. We like that people can sync devices, which makes it easy for us to entice people to get involved…One of our goals of the program is that everyone can get involved without any special equipment and no barriers to participating, and we think Walker Tracker has helped us to achieve that. – Erin Brown, Public Health Planner
• [Walker Tracker] gave us the central point for everyone to go to for this entire effort. – Jeanne Casner
Do you have advice for other activity-based community initiatives?
• Keep the ask very simple. When you are putting together a walking challenge or putting together something that you’re asking a lot of people to do, keep it simple. – Elizabeth Herzberger, Public Health Educator
• We benefit from having a champion. By far our Commissioners are the champions. They are the visible, known champion. And they are persistent and consistent with messaging. – Jeanne Casner
How do you keep your participants engaged during a year-long program?
• We used the custom maps to bring that local interest to our residents of the county. We just wrapped up the 18 Libraries in the County and this Fall we’ll have one that highlights all the farms in the county. – Erin Brown
Creating a community around activity and providing accessibility to challenges, rewards, and/or environmental supports are pillars of successful wellness programs.