September 30, 2014

‘Healthy Challenge’ aims to get Williston moving

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By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

If your New Year’s resolution is to get more exercise, you have exactly four days to slack off before it’s time to get on the stick.

On Jan. 5, the “Healthy Challenge,” a 5-kilometer snowshoe (weather permitting) or fun walk will be held at Catamount Outdoor Family Center from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. A joint venture between Catamount, the town of Williston, Vermont Senior Games and the Center for Aging at the University of Vermont, the event will serve as the kickoff for “Williston Moves,” a yearlong fitness challenge that will follow a template established by the Vermont Senior Games’ Move for Well-Being program.

“Williston is only as healthy as its people,” said Catamount co-owner Jim McCullough. “This effort is to make sure our Williston residents have an opportunity to improve their health and wellness.”

McCullough noted that there will be no registration fee for the Healthy Challenge and snowshoes will be available for rental at a reduced rate of $6.50.

Unlike the Vermont Senior Games program, which is limited to people 50 or older, the Williston Moves program is for all ages and fitness levels. A strictly honor system-based program, participants are asked to pledge to one of four levels: copper, bronze, silver or gold—which entail respective commitments of 75, 150, 225 or 360 minutes of exercise per week.

Gary Eley, chairman of the Vermont Senior Games’ Move for Well-Being program, said the initiative is geared toward getting people off the couch, be it as simple as taking an evening stroll around the neighborhood.

“People over 50 can get really sedentary and not moving much, just watching TV and not doing much with their bodies,” Eley said. “If people can get out and just do 30 minutes a day of walking, it can make a tremendous difference in their health and a tremendous difference in our health care costs.”

Eley said he expects a website to be operational by Jan. 1 that will allow participants to track their progress. In the meantime, Eley said, registration forms and hard copy progress logs can be obtained by calling or emailing him at 373-3188 or [email protected] Forms will also be available at the Catamount event on Jan. 5.

McCullough said there will likely be an awards ceremony at the end of the year for participants who complete the 12-month program.

“They will be eligible for awards, but, of course, the real award is feeling better and a new life paradigm,” McCullough said.

Williston Moves is the first in a series of townwide initiatives that will lead up to Williston’s 250th anniversary celebration on June 7.

Williston Town Clerk Deb Beckett said other tentative plans include a community pot luck dinner prior to Town Meeting on March 4. She said the dinner will likely feature a mock debate that will use historical records to recreate a specific town meeting from centuries past.

Other plans include a 24-hour photo project on June 7 that will utilize a fleet of photographers to capture a day in the life of Williston. The celebration will likely conclude with a group photo shoot at Williston Community Park on June 8 for any and all Williston residents who wish to attend.

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