Walk Georgia is encouraging state residents to take steps, literally, to improve their health. While the spring session of this University of Georgia Extension program has started, it’s not too late to join in; registration for the free 12-week program continues through March 10.
Georgia has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation. In an effort to change lifestyles, Walk Georgia, promotes increasing physical activity among residents of all ages at the most local level. Through a $1 million, three-year grant, The Coca-Cola Foundation is partnering with Walk Georgia to further this fight against the obesity epidemic.
“The spring 2014 Walk Georgia session is about empowerment,” said Deborah Murray, associate dean for extension and outreach in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “While Walk Georgia continues to inspire and equip Georgians to improve their health through physical activity, The Coca-Cola Foundation’s gift has empowered us at Walk Georgia to grow our statewide reach and to ramp up our program’s offerings in an effort to educate and support all Georgians in combatting obesity and increasing physical activity.”
The grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation will aid Walk Georgia in achieving its goal of growing to 100,000 participants over the next three years. The program also hopes to decrease the number of physically inactive people in each Georgia county by 5 percent. The grant will provide for an enhanced website, improved Walk Georgia services and increased growth of the program at the local level.
“The partnership with The Coca-Cola Foundation is extremely important in benefitting the health of Georgians, especially when it comes to promoting physical activity,” Murray said. “No single entity has the resources to address this issue, so we must partner together to help Georgians.”
“Supporting Walk Georgia is another example of Coca-Cola’s commitment to help people lead active, healthy lifestyles,” said Lori George Billingsley, vice president of community relations, Coca-Cola North America. “This commitment starts with our home state of Georgia.”
Walk Georgia, run jointly by UGA Extension and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences, is in its seventh year of providing residents with the opportunity to virtually “walk” the state through the use of an online physical activity log and corresponding web-based map. The program publishes a newsletter that includes recipes as well as information on varying wellness and nutrition topics, health-related apps and websites and state parks.
“We need to make physical activity a part of our culture and daily lives through programs that are not dependent on a fee or a gym,” Murray said. “To me, the beauty of Walk Georgia is that it meets people where they are. Because it’s a community-based program, there’s something in it for everyone.”
Walk Georgia’s spring 2014 campaign runs through April 26. Participants may register online through March 10 at the Walk Georgia website www.walkgeorgia.org. Those who register for the spring session are eligible for discounted tickets to the Atlanta Hawks-Denver Nuggets game on March 15. Registration and tickets can also be found on the Walk Georgia website.
(Kathryn Schiliro is the Walk Georgia editor and help desk manager. More information about Walk Georgia visit www.walkgeorgia.org.)