By Kathryn Holland, Colquitt County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent
When I began my career with UGA Cooperative Extension I was barely aware of the Walk Georgia program. Then one day I received a call from one of our community leaders asking me to implement Walk Georgia for the City of Moultrie employees. Our mayor’s wife, Katrina McIntosh, had learned about the program while attending last year’s Georgia Municipal Association annual conference and became a primary champion of the program.
The City of Moultrie, with the support of the Mayor and City Council, chose to invest in the health of their employees and began a work place wellness program. They requested we implement a six-month pilot, using Walk Georgia as our key intervention. With the aid of the city department heads and the foresight of our city Manager, we were able to secure an incentive of two hours of workout time on the clock; a massive policy change that we are working to continue. We had criteria on tracking this information in order to be eligible for this time allowed to be considered ‘on the clock’. Our goal was to improve physical activity and reduce healthcare costs.
Since this pilot was longer than a typical 12 week Walk Georgia campaign, we also implemented a once a month class during the lunch hour to help reduce attrition and provide support for employees. We covered a different topic each month and teamed up with local partners, such as Colquitt Regional Medical Center. For example, one month we discussed cardiovascular health, and a nurse from the hospital came and talked to us about cardiovascular health, and also provided free blood pressure screenings.
We also had a monthly drawing for Walk Georgia prizes, and changed the prize criteria each month, giving all active participants a chance to qualify. This design helped keep participants interested and logging their activity. There was a grand prize drawing and certificate of completion at the end of the six-month pilot for everyone to have an opportunity to win a Fitbit. This device tracks everything we discussed in the monthly meetings.
One of the biggest highlights was the privilege to participate in a Tailgate with the City of Moultrie and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) for our biggest high school football rivalry game of the year. We had a blowup screen on the downtown courthouse square to broadcast the game, and collaborated with GPB to shoot a news feature story that aired during halftime.
To date 256 Colquitt County Walk Georgia participants have logged 480,288 points and 3250.25 hours, or approximately 12.6 hours per person. This is exceptional progress for our county and I am extremely proud of all our Walk Georgia members. Colquitt County will continue to use Walk Georgia to encourage more physical activity in our community and create stronger, healthier, and more vibrant lives.