In Tuolumne County, the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Central Sierra region helped start the "Tuolumne County: Step It Up" campaign across the school district. Thirty percent of the population in Tuolumne County is overweight or obese. The UCCE staff wanted to reduce this statistic. They also wanted to provide a model for a simple way to achieve a healthier lifestyle.
Physical activity is an important aspect of health in children. Benefits include:
- improved heart health
- increased muscle strength and bone health
- improved weight control
- decreased risk for many chronic diseases
- positive effect on mental health
- inclination to continue healthy lifestyle into adulthood
- improved educational outcomes
UC CalFresh, Tuolumne County Schools, County Public Health, and the Local ATCAA Food Bank invited school staff to form teams at their schools. Teams participated in a six-week competition. The competition ran from April 6, 2017, to National Walking Day, May 17, 2017. Participants logged their steps through online spreadsheets. This was emailed weekly by a designated team captain.
The ‘Step It Up' competition garnered significant community support. Local businesses donated prizes for winning staff. Prizes were presented at school-wide assemblies. Each participant received a certificate. Students contributed to their step count through recess walks, “walk-and-talk” roving lectures, or school-wide walking mornings.
There were five teams and over 180 participants. The steppers collectively walked 25,081 miles. The winning school was acknowledged by their district school board. The school enacted a policy dedicating time every Wednesday morning to walk as a school.
This article was submitted by University of California Cooperative Extension, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. For more information please contact Andra Nicoli.