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Evanston walking program celebrates 10th anniversary

People walk on Chicago Avenue. Evanston’s We’re Out Walking program, which promotes an active lifestyle, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

People stroll on Chicago Avenue. Evanston’s We’re Out Walking program, which promotes an lively way of life, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

People stroll on Chicago Avenue. Evanston’s We’re Out Walking program, which promotes an lively way of life, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Billy Kobin, Reporter

We’re Out Walking — a program that encourages Evanston residents to steer lively and wholesome life — started 10 years in the past as Women Out Walking with the objective of getting 50 women locally to turn out to be extra lively.

That objective was far surpassed when 500 women signed up within the first yr and dedicated themselves to enhancing their health by means of walking.

Now in its 10th yr, WOW has expanded to incorporate group gardening, vitamin workshops, women’s health issues and cooking demonstrations. The program kicked off its annual 12-week program Saturday at an occasion at Evanston Township High School.

The identify change displays a want for the program to be extra gender inclusive, stated Evonda Thomas-Smith, Evanston’s health and human providers director. The program has no plans to finish quickly, Thomas-Smith stated, including that it has helped develop a way of group amongst residents and neighbors.

“The one component that we did not expect that just organically occurred is the community connection,” Thomas-Smith stated.

Jonathan Webb — now the vice chairman of company alliances and grants for the American Diabetes Association — beforehand labored within the metropolis’s Health and Human Services division and helped launch WOW in 2007. Thomas-Smith stated Webb was instrumental in reaching out to group teams and residents to start out the program, which was supported by a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“(Webb) went to the churches. He went to the school districts,” Thomas-Smith stated. “He developed the idea of women being in teams to encourage one another and provide additional peer support.”

WOW challenges members to trace their steps whereas walking and to hitch others in dwelling an lively way of life. Participants pay a $10 membership payment and have entry to group walks and health and health courses, Thomas-Smith stated.

The program was acknowledged with an award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors for growing metropolis livability in 2012.

Participants can add and uncover walking routes on the town’s web site. At the top of the program, walkers are rewarded for his or her tracked steps via prizes donated by group companies and organizations.

More than 30 companies and group organizations — together with Northwestern and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 — sponsor the program and donate prizes.

Alan Anderson (McCormick ’99, Kellogg ’04), Northwestern’s government director of neighborhood and group relations, stated the University acknowledges the significance of WOW in selling women’s health and public health in Evanston.

“Given that health and public safety is one of the pillars of the work of neighborhood and community relations, we wanted to be supportive from our end,” Anderson stated. “We believe (WOW) is a great opportunity to empower as well as promote health and well-being.”

Several WOW members spoke throughout a City Council assembly in April concerning the program’s constructive advantages. Evanston resident Willie Shaw stated through the assembly that collaborating within the program has improved her health and allowed her to satisfy a various group of individuals.

“Even after many years of living here, I had never walked past or enjoyed as much of Evanston’s scenery as I have participating in the WOW program,” Shaw stated.

Evanston resident Linda Mathis stated the inclusivity and accessibility of the program makes it useful for the complete group.

“I strongly feel that whatever age you are or whatever fitness level you are at, WOW is the perfect program for everyone,” Mathis stated.

Twitter: @billy_kobin


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