With a high energy Mardi Gras theme and proclamations of support from half dozen cities, the "Get Going Gadsden" campaign kicked off June 1.
It is a broad ambitious initiative by the Gadsden County Health Department targeting as many residents as possible.
Get Going Gadsden will run from July 1 to Aug. 31. It is a 60-day challenge to improve the health of participants by getting them physically active. The department’s Population Based Services: Prevention and Education Program has invited business owners, agency heads, supervisors, pastors and community leaders around the county to participate.
They will form teams with as many employees, group members, congregation members, etc. as possible. And it will be a competition for both individual and team prizes.
"It is to improve lifestyles and healthy choices," said health department director Marlon Hunter. "The event is designed to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles."
Referring to the efforts of the health department staff, Hunter called the campaign, "a great example of creativity at work." He noted that the Gadsden County Heath Department has been around for 75 years and wants to tie this in with a celebration.
"It's a challenge to residents," said Dee Jackson, with the department's prevention and education program. It is to tackle obesity and address the associated problems such as hypertension, heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
She said there is power and motivation from others when exercising with groups we already participate in and people can participate on more than one team.
All types of exercise can qualify and individual prizes will be awarded to the male and female who lost the most weight. There will also be prizes for the team with the highest percentage of weight loss and the team which puts in the most exercise hours. An award ceremony is planned for September.
Initial weigh-ins will take place from June 12 to June 26, with teams getting their event materials the following week.
The event included welcoming remarks by BOCC Chair Sherri Taylor and Howard McKinnon of the Community Health Council and a poem on healthy eating by fifth grader Alexia Phillips.
For entry information see page A2. Next week -- June 16 -- the Gadsden County Times will provide more information on Get Going Gadsden and feature one of the health department professionals behind this campaign.