Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Rhonda's What If...
What if a community came together to support one another in a common goal and that common goal become something bigger and soon other communities joined in, and not long after that it became an epidemic of goal-chasing, people-supporting, enthusiastic, energetic folks who were changing their lives and thus changing the boundaries of their world?
This was my friend Rhonda's "What If..."
She's a nurse at the Albert County Health & Wellness Centre, you see, so healthy lifestyles are her passion. She knows the province of New Brunswick has the highest percentage of unhealthy people in the nation. Over 61% of New Brunswickers are physically inactive, compared to a national average of 53.5%. Over 20% are obese, compared with 15% nationwide. These are scary stats.
She wondered what would happen if she made it easier for people to get active in a community where physical activity wasn't a priority. Her "What If" started with a series of weekly information sessions hoping to attract a few folks who wanted to make positive changes in their lives to improve their health. It was a local thing -a trial of sorts - that she launched in the small village of Hillsborough, N.B. The results were amazing. The numbers doubled, then tripled.
People started walking and running and losing weight. They started changing the way they ate and lived and thought about their lives. They started laughing and encouraging one another. They started connecting with each other in a whole new way.
Then Rhonda asked, "What if we spread this out further? What if we try this in other communities?" She, along with colleagues Marlene and Doris, put together a focus group to brainstorm ideas, then put the word out on the street and within a few weeks, Footloose! in Albert County was launched.
This past Monday, on Kick-Off Night, 200 people picked up their pedometers and join the Footloose! Challenge. The Goal: to walk or run an average of 10,000 steps (5 miles) every day and log their mileage. The team designated and marked 12 beautiful trails throughout the county as Footloose! Trails with maps to show their locations. Log books were supplied to record weekly mileage, drop-off stations established in Hillsborough, Hopewell Cape, Riverside-Albert and Alma to collect weekly mileages. Each month, prizes will be awarded for milestones.
In the days following the kick-off, more people joined the challenge. Phyllis Sutherland called from Ponderosa Pines Campground. She wanted to sign up her nine employees and issue a challenge to other Albert County businesses. Right afterward, Gary Steeves of Gary Steeves Insurance called with the same request. By the end of the week, the maximum of 300 memberships had been sold.
The challenge is on. Who's next?
What if those 300+ enthusiastic people encouraged two friends to join them? What then?
In the coming weeks, I'll be exploring some of these Albert County Trails with my nifty pedometer and sharing my experiences with photos. I invite you share your own comments or photos here on these pages.
Got questions? Need advice? Post your comments and I'll try to get you an answer.