Sussex County Community Walking Event
On September 20, 2009, the Sussex County Department of Environmental and Public Health Services and the Sussex County YMCA, with assistance from Newton Memorial Hospital, banded together to kick-off the county-wide Community Walking Challenge Event. The program was based on the nationally recognized "America on the Move®" program known for challenging participants to increase the number of steps they take each day while making other lifestyle changes to improve their overall health and well-being.
Obesity and the lack of physical activity is a health crisis that continues to plague our country. Over the last few years, an assessment was conducted throughout New Jersey, called the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) that determined what the public health priority issues were in each county. In Sussex County, the #1 Public Health Priority Issue was in fact, obesity and a lack of physical activity, a health concern that greatly impacts the health status of our residents. Through this assessment, public health departments were able to outline the future direction of public health issues affecting residents and began taking action. This event was just "one step" taken in our County.
Many businesses and organizations formed teams, while others showed up to simply walk with a friend. After registering, participants received a gift bag filled with goodies to help get them started with the challenge and had the chance to visit some of the vendor booths. A pedometer was given to each person and a log book for them to keep track of the total number of steps they took each day. Once the challenge began, the goal of the event was to walk at least one mile around the pre-set course at the Sussex County Fairgrounds, essentially kicking-off to the five-week challenge. However, many of the walkers didn't stop at one mile and persevered through as many as three/four laps.
Throughout the months of September and October, the program participants were given the opportunity to attend any, or all, of the daily activity challenges designated on a calendar that was provided at the kick-off event. Weekly reminders were emailed to help with keeping everyone motivated and to ensure that everyone was logging their steps each day.
The challenge came to an end on October 25th, at the Sussex County YMCA's Family Fall Festival, where the winners were announced. Teams were encouraged to turn in their total number of steps taken during the challenge and the top three winners included: 1st place - The Red Hot Chili Steppers; 2nd place - The Penthouse Divas; and 3rd place - The Newton Memorial Hospital Walking Team. An honorable mention was given to the Sussex County Cancer Coalition and the team from Hardyston Township.
The Challenge was considered a success and another step in creating a healthier Sussex County.