Grinnell walks with wellness goals in mind

Starting from six different locations throughout town, Grinnell residents participated in the Healthiest State Walk on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at noon. This one-kilometer walk was part of the Healthiest State Initiative, an effort to encourage Iowans to improve their holistic health. Grinnell College also had its own rendezvous point in front of Noyce Science Center.

The designated starting locations were: Arhens Park, Central Park, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Mayflower Community Homes and Seeland Park.

“We’ve done it every year it’s been an initiative, and we just keep growing, getting more momentum each year,” said Rachel Kinnick, the Director of Grinnell’s Chamber of Commerce, co-chair for the event.

During the walk, Grinnell College gave out free fruit to participants in front of Noyce. Ashley Phipps, the Residence Life Coordinator for Smith, Younker and on-campus houses, had grapes from the campus location tent. Phipps explained that the Healthiest State Walk fit well with her other wellness goals.

“I signed up for the Wellness Initiative on campus because I’m trying to walk more and be healthier in general … I also have a Fitbit, so I try to get my 10,000 steps a day, and I thought this would help,” she said. (Fitbit is a wristband that counts steps, tracks eating and sleeping patterns and is connected to an app).

Students stop for free fruit outside Noyce Science Center. Photo by Aaron Juarez.

Students stop for free fruit outside Noyce Science Center. Photo by Aaron Juarez.

The free fruit was part of Grinwell, the President’s Wellness Challenge. “This year it’s [the walk] a little bit more publicized because of the president’s wellness challenge that we’re cooperating with,” said head softball coach and Coordinator of Faculty & Staff Wellness Amanda Recamp. Her goal was that the campus location would get at least a hundred walkers.

Sam McConnell ’17 had not originally planned on walking until she saw the incentive of free grapes.

“I’m from Minneapolis, so I’m used to walking a couple miles to get somewhere, and I don’t do that ever here. It’s nice to have a reason to just walk a little bit,” she said.

Grinnell College’s Wellness Director Jen Jacobsen also noted how successful the free fruit was.

“We’ve had a lot of students come and get free fruit, and I think some of our comments were, ‘This is so awesome,’ ‘This is the best part of my day,’ ‘I’m so excited’ … We try to aim to put out some fruits that the dining hall doesn’t normally serve,” Jacobsen said.

Off campus, there were other ways to publicize the Healthiest State Walk. This year, it was coordinated to fall on International Walk to School Day.

“Our day will kick off bright and early; we’re meeting at 7 a.m. in front of the arts center. The students will have a chance to meet there, and we do a big picture, and we all split to respective areas and take a walk to school,” said Kinnick.

Kinnick said that the goal was to get 2,000 participants from International Walk to School Day and the state walk.

In the past, elementary and middle school students did the one-kilometer walk during their recess so that they could be counted in the state tally.

“And that’s all because a teacher jumps on board, is excited about it and makes that happen; so we’re thankful to those people who are leaders in the community, too,” Kinnick said.

While Grinnell College students had the incentive of free fruit, community members also had an incentive to participate. Hy-Vee, a corporate sponsor of the Healthiest State Initiative, hosted a Talk the Walk Contest—for every participant successfully recruited, both the recruiter and the recruitee were entered into a drawing for Hy-Vee gift cards.

Kinnick was proudest that Wednesday’s walk not only promoted wellness, but was also a great community-building activity.

“Walking one kilometer at noon on a given Wednesday in October does not make us a healthy state, but it is a step in the right direction, so to speak. And it’s an opportunity to get everybody involved and included,” Kinnick said.