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Billion Steps Campaign: promoting health and building community

by Kari Ashworth - Executive Editor
Sun, Mar 8th 2020 12:00 pm
A Brockport Billion Steps Campaign team has been created on campus to promote health and wellness, as well as a sense of community. Photo courtesy of Daily Eagle
A Brockport Billion Steps Campaign team has been created on campus to promote health and wellness, as well as a sense of community. Photo courtesy of Daily Eagle

The College at Brockport’s department of public health and health education has created a team for the Billion Steps Campaign, tracking steps until April 12. 

The Billion Steps Campaign is an annual event hosted by the American Public Health Association (APHA) as a way to promote community and health. The campaign coincides with National Public Health Week this year, so the department is using the challenge as a way to lead up to it.

“The department of public health and health education begins planning events for National Public Health Week as soon as the Spring semester starts,” Graduate Assistant Tina Murty said. “We saw that APHA had this dynamic, team-based opportunity and we knew the Brockport Community would make a great team. Even walking to classes around campus can contribute to health and we wanted to share the idea that every step counts.”

The program is run through a fitness tracker app, and the program has some motivational tools built in. The app also places the Brockport team together so the average steps can be seen. 

Steps can be tracked through the fitness app, a fitness device or can be entered manually. There are also numerous ways one can join in. 

“Walking around campus, of course, counts,” Murty said. “I think many people might not realize how seemingly small things — like walking around campus — really add up. But this program is not just walking; all kinds of activities can be converted into ‘steps.’ For example, 30 minutes of wheelchair use equates to over 3,000 ‘steps.’”

Lecturer Jackie Dipzinski, who is on the campaign’s committee, reiterated this.

“Every step moves us closer to our team goal; no contribution is too small,” Dipzinski said.

As of Saturday, Feb. 29, the Brockport campaign was at about 1 million steps. While there may be a long way to go to hit 1 billion steps, Murty said the national challenge should hit the goal even if Brockport’s team alone does not. Still, Murty believes Brockport is up for the challenge. 

“Honestly, I think Brockport can do it alone,” Murty said. “It will take a lot of people joining and a lot of movement, but I believe it is possible.”

One community member who has joined in is college Librarian Jennifer Little Kegler. Kegler saw the campaign advertised on Daily Eagle and decided to join in for a multitude of reasons.

“I believe fitness and wellness are important, and I like to try to incorporate different activities into my daily life,” Kegler said. “I like programs like this because they help hold me accountable to exercising and to remembering it every day. I liked this challenge because it has a calculator (and an app) for activities like yoga and pilates, and also cross country and downhill skiing, which are activities I love in the winter!”

Kegler also enjoys supporting student success at the college, and this challenge allows her to support a project for the department. Increasing activity levels and lowering obesity rates is also an important aspect of the challenge to Kegler.

As captain for the college’s JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, which is a 3.5 mile walk/run in downtown Rochester that faculty and staff participate in once a year, Kegler and her team are always looking for new ways to promote fitness. Kegler has even encouraged her team to join the Billion Steps Campaign as a way to get in shape for the Corporate Challenge on June 2.

The hope of this challenge, according to Murty, is “to communicate the messages of large public health groups like the APHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Surgeon General of the U.S., among many others, who have prioritized the promotion of movement in our increasingly sedentary world.” Murty also reiterated daily activity is a contributor to physical and mental health.

“We hope our team members feel a sense of connection in this shared goal,” Murty said. “The program might just superficially be a ‘step’ counter, but it really is a way to build community, self-confidence, pride in accomplishment and, of course, health and wellness.”

Kegler reiterated this, reinforcing the idea of building community.

“I hope to continue to exercise daily and to help the college reach its goal of one billion steps,” Kegler said. “I like the idea of building community around fitness and wellness, and this is another step toward that.”

Dipzinski also agreed the challenge could strengthen the discussion on health.

“The Billion Steps Challenge and National Public Health Week raise interest and awareness of overall health promotion, that public health week extends beyond the six days of activities and the public health issues facing our communities as well as getting people talking about wellness which engages our community in that conversation,” Dipzinski said.

This campaign is not limited to the department or even the campus.

“We invite everyone to join us — students, faculty, staff — anyone who feels they are a member of the Brockport community in any way can be a part of this effort,” Murty said.

For those who may want to join the campaign, you can visit aphabillionsteps.walkertracker.com, register, scroll through the teams and select “Brockport Community.”

Photo of the Week

Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

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