You are more likely to participate in physical activity in your neighborhood if you happen to live by a walking trail or comprehensive bike lane system. The physical environment, however, is not the only environmental factor contributing to your exercise habits. Your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors play a major role as well. It is easier to establish a healthy lifestyle while surrounded by community members who are working for that same goal.
This past summer, Hancock County, OH ran a community walking challenge featuring two competing communities in the county, Arlington and McComb. In this way, members not only exercised for their own health but also worked together as a community. The program was a success, with both communities competing neck and neck throughout the challenge and collectively walking over 61 million steps! Jessica Halsey, Community Health Educator at Hancock Public Health, was gracious enough to answer our questions so that we can share their story with you.
What was the goal of your program? The goal of our program was to create healthy community engagement and work towards a program to be implemented in other communities annually.
Hancock County ran its first Walker Tracker challenge this year. How did participants respond to the new program? The challenge was very well received. There was a sense of community engagement and community pride. We have had many community members that have asked if we will be doing this competition again next year. We even have one larger organization that wants to implement it with their employees as part of their wellness program.
You had a great turn out and engagement for your program. What tools or strategies did you use to keep participants motivated? We used a member from each community to be the spokesperson to get people to participate and keep them motivated throughout the program. The sense of competition between the two communities also helped in keeping people involved and motivated.
Do you have any advice you would give to people running a community walking program? Have patient people to help with the recruitment process as well as participation throughout the program.
What are your goals for your next challenge? To engage another set of communities to participate and for this program to be an annual event for Hancock county to look forward to.
Did you hear of any personal success stories within the community due to your use of Walker Tracker? One of our community coordinators for McComb would always update us on how the community was doing. Each meeting she would come in with a different story from a community member about the competition. The pride and love for their community really showed through this competition.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with your challenge or the Walker Tracker platform? This platform was amazing to work with and so easy to navigate. We will definitely be using Walker Tracker again.
Thank you, Jessica, for your time and congratulations on the success of the program!