During the 12-week program, participants can track their “virtual” journeys across the state as they chart online their physical activity through the end of April. With a goal of walking 15 miles each week, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offering enables people to convert various forms of exercise into steps-per-minute, so all types of “walked” miles can be logged. Even though Walk Georgia already is underway, those wanting to participate can register as individuals or four-member teams until March 10.
“The Walk Georgia program has several different goals that they focus on for participants,” said Bartow County Extension Resource Manager Brielle Shinall, who is helping coordinate the program locally. “They want participants to have fun and to really get out and get active and to be able to have a relationship with exercise, so that they’ll be able to build lifelong patterns. So for Bartow County, the goal is for participants to walk 15 miles per week and to establish healthy habits. In the fall of 2013, we had 16 participants who were able to achieve the 15 miles per week goal and then we also had several participants who were able to exceed that goal. So that was very exciting for Bartow.
“... Participants are able to give feedback and many of the participants said that they formed exercise habits that they plan to continue beyond the duration of the program. Many of them expressed they had experienced weight loss, which is a really great outcome from the program. Many of them found different exercises that they enjoyed and they were able to really engage in.”
For the fall Walk Georgia campaign, the top participants were 4-H’er Cayla Candelas, overall and youth leader, 778.9 “virtual” miles logged of physical activity; Richard Furrow, adult leader, 473.9 miles logged; and Sassy Seniors — consisting of Judy Wilson, Sue Cox, Wanda Capellaro and Donna Oliver — team leader, 1,535.3 miles logged. Along with these top participants, other individuals who logged the equivalent of at least 180 cumulative miles or 15 miles or more each week were Tom McHenry, Linda Rose, Katy Fink, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese, Randall Johnson, Mike Weightman, John Wilson, Donna Jackson, Robert Frink and Connie Sams.
“We’re part of the University of Georgia, who sponsors the Walk Georgia program. So it’s kind of a great hand in hand to offer it to 4-H’ers, but it’s most definitely open to any 4-H youth age group all the way up to high school,” said Allison Perkins, Bartow County Extension Agent for 4-H and Youth Development. “... I think the main [goal] is just to kind of give them a fun way to get out there and get moving and able to learn more about the state and the surrounding counties that are in Georgia.
“So I think that it’s really great to ... give them a little bit of incentive, like, ‘Oh, if I do just this little bit more then I get to go and visit Paulding County or maybe even all the way down to Bibb County or Grady County. So that kind of gives them a little history, background too.”
For more information, visit Walk Georgia’s website, www.walkgeorgia.org, or contact the Bartow County Extension Office, 320 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville, by phone at 770-387-5142, or online, www.caes.uga.edu/extension/bartow.