|Sussex County Embraces
Mayors Wellness Campaign
By Herbert Yardley, Health Officer
Director of Sussex County
Division of Heal (SCDOH)
& Daniel Coranoto, Deputy Mayor
The municipality whose citizens walks the most steps will receive an individual trophy to keep in the township as well as the Traveling Golden Sneaker Trophy, the award which will “travel” from town to town at the end of each quarter participation.
Last year, when I (Herbert Yardley) received information about the Mayors Wellness Campaign, I was thrilled at the thought of using this campaign, in conjunction with grant funds, to initiate a collaborative effort designed to increase the physical activity and well-being of Sussex County residents. The SCDOH applied for and was awarded a mini-grant from the Leader’s Academy for Healthy Community Development and the New Jersey Council on Fitness and Sports, to enable and assist each municipality to initiate a community-based walking program designed to improve the health of their communities.
The intent of the SCDOH was to assist, support and encourage the residents, in each of the contracting municipalities willing to participate, to achieve the goal of increasing their physical activity without having to travel outside their communities. By promoting “walkable” communities, all residents within these municipalities should be able to safely and conveniently participate in moderate physical activity.
In an effort to get this initiative underway, the SCDOH asked the Mayors of each municipality, as well as the Local Boards of Health, to support the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign thus, by extension, supporting the Division of Health’s efforts to establish a community-based walking program by acting as the launching point and lead for the walking program in their town. The walking program is entitled “The Sussex County Golden Sneakers: 10,000 Steps to Better Health.” The U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation for physical activity is the goal of approximately 10,000 steps a day. On average, during the course of a normal day a person takes anywhere from 900 to 3,500 steps. The intent of the SCDOH to assist, support and encourage the residents to achieve the goal of increasing their physical activity by increasing their number of daily steps as well as to encourage a “competition of steps walked” between the municipalities.
According to the 2003-2004 New Jersey Behavioral risk Factor Survey data for Sussex County, over 54 percent of county residents do not participate in physical activity on a regular basis, which increases their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. This community-based walking program has been successful in promoting and increasing the physical activity of hundreds of residents.
The SCDOH has provided incentives to participants such as logs to keep track of distance walked; pedometers, lapel pins for “steps” walked. The municipality whose citizens walks the most steps will receive an individual trophy to keep in the township as well as the Traveling Golden Sneaker Trophy, the award which will “travel” from town to town at the end of each quarter participation. The Traveling Golden Sneaker Trophy for the 1st quarter has been presented to Hampton Township for “logging” the most “steps” in this quarter.
The SCDOH has held meetings with the municipal coordinators on a quarterly basis in order to provide a new program information as well as educational presentations related to the health benefits of walking. I firmly believe that by collaborating with one another, we have helped our residents’ progress towards the goal of increased physical activity and better health. People in the community are interested in establishing a community-based walking program as a means of increasing group participation as well as increasing their physical activity.
The Municipality of Newton has already participated and currently Sandyston Township and many other municipalities are joining in this program.