A Year in Review – Walk Across Texas, 2015
Each year, I publish a report on each of my major programming areas. Today’s focus will be on Walk Across Texas. WAT is an 8-week walking program for teams of eight people, school classes, or individuals. Teams have a friendly competition to see who can log the most miles walking, jogging, or biking. You can even dance, do aerobics or gardening, clean house or ride a stationary bike! You can also enter your miles on the Web and track your online at http://walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu. Everyone who participates will take home a health habit – walking! The ultimate goal is for teams of 8 or classrooms to log 833 miles (the approximate distance from El Paso to Beaumont).
The venues for Walk Across Texas took place in 2015:
1) Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteer training – participants started onFebruary 3 and ended on March 24. The group of six amassed 868.5 miles, surpassing the goal of 833. The total economic impact for this group is $254,194. Included in this program were 5 weekly fact sheets, 2 cooking demonstrations, and incentive items, such as cutting boards, veggie peelers, measuring cups and spoons. 60% of the participants attain 5 days of physical activity for 30 minutes or more; 20% participate in 6 days of physical activity for 30 minutes or more.
2) Head Start Teach In-Service – Thirty-five Head Start staff and faculty attended the Teacher-in-Service training in which the Walk Across Texas program was introduced. Select lessons from the teacher link were implemented with the group as a way to show how teachers could replicate the lessons with their classrooms. Each simple lesson fits into the TEKS. In addition, the teacher link on the WAT website was reviewed, which includes lesson plans, parent newsletters, a link to register entire classrooms, and healthy hints.
3) Head Start parents – Walk & Talk was implemented with 16 participants at the Early Childhood Learning Center, starting September 16 and ending on November 2. Although not all could complete the 8-week series, the group logged a cumulative mileage of 2,424.3, far surpassing the 833 mile goal! The total economic impact for this group was $431,053, based on potential health care cost saving if healthy practices are continued. The group chose the name “Overcomers.” This series included the following: 8 weekly fact sheets, 8 nutritional/physical activity topics, 2 cooking demonstrations, 3 Better Living for Texans newsletters (September, October, and November, 2015), and incentive items such as cutting boards, spoon set, hot pads, paring knives, and measuring cups. A “graduation ceremony” was held to recognize those who walked the most miles, and to present certificates to all of those who participated. 75% of participants increased the number of days of physical activity for 30 minutes or more; 56% increased the number of days of fruit consumption; 43% increased the number of days of vegetable consumption. Media coverage included Sulphur Springs News Telegram, Hopkins County Family & Consumer Sciences Facebook page, Front Porch News Texas Facebook page, and KSST.
Participant comments pertaining to the benefits of the program included:
– The nutritional tips are very helpful and help me to think about my diet and overall fitness.
– Stress relief, more energy
– It helped me with taking care of myself
– How to spend more time with our children and other ways we can exercise
Comments concerning what participants like most about the program included:
– Friendship, learning how to eat healthy food
– Getting to know other walkers
– Talking with friends
– Walking/talking with friends! We are overcomers!
– Excellent program!
– Great recipes!
Future implications: The Walk & Talk program will be implemented in 2016 at the Early Childhood Learning Center. The three-lesson series, “A Fresh Start to a Healthier You” will be implemented along with the Walk & Talk 8-week series.
Next week, watch for more impact reports!
Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder.