I was walking downtown the other day when I noticed a little sign. WalkWorks, it said.
“What does that mean?” I wondered. So I did some digging and learned about a county and state-wide initiative to get us to live a little healthier just by walking.
As luck would have it, I ran into a very nice volunteer manning an informational table on this very topic at the Y after my morning workout (treadmill-based, probably not what the WalkWorks committee had in mind).
So I posed my question to her, “WalkWorks. What does that mean?”
She explained Chester County has set a goal to get more residents walking and tracking their steps by the end of the year. In part because walking is a great activity and part because there’s a potential $500,000 on the line.
Interesting. Go on.
What is WalkWorks?
First she said, WalkWorks is a partnership between the Chester County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While the state initiative also includes a focus on policy change, the County component has really drilled into promoting walking throughout the county by providing places to walk and supporting opportunities to walk together.
To measure their progress Chester County has set up a goal of five billion steps and five thousand registered by the end of the year.
To date they have just over three billion steps logged and nearly 4000 registered.
Five Walking Tours in and around West Chester
To achieve these goals the County has set a few things in motion. One of which is establishing permanent walking tours. So far they have established five city walks, including West Chester, that track along safe, well-lit streets and hit upon points of interest in the area.
The West Chester route is 2.4 miles long and steps from Chestnut to Gay to Market down to S. Brandywine over to Sharpless and back up High Street.
There’s also a map with points of historical interest marked including the courthouse, Chester County Historical Society and the Church of the Holy Trinity.
In addition to West Chester there are also walks in Coatesville, Phoenixville and Kennett Square.
The County has also set up walking competitions pitting school districts against each other. (West Chester is leading in steps but not registrations, in case anyone was wondering).
Wait, didn’t you say something about $500,000?
The County is also participating in the Healthiest Cities and Counties competition hosted by U.S. News and World Report and Aetna and featuring 1.5 million in prize money (including a $500,000 grand prize) to be invested back into winning communities.
The County has made it through the first round of judging being named one of 50 finalists.
When we spoke last week my knowledgeable volunteer said they were hoping to make it through to the next round of ten.
The Healthy Cities website now lists Chester County as an honorable mention to the list of ten. Perhaps not as far as they County had hoped to get in the competition but a good first effort and there still plenty of steps left to take right here at home.
To register with WalkWorks go to visit the https://chesco.walkertracker.com/ and click on “Register Now” to complete a short registration.