The annual United Way fundraising drive is a common event in most communities. It’s a traditional and successful way to aggregate funding, advocacy and support from anyone in the community no matter what their ability to give. We all understand the impact the United Way has on our community. What if we could improve the wellness of our community the “united” way?
Supporting our community’s needs is less about helping one person at a time and more about changing systems to help all of us. We are all connected and interdependent. We all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, when people are healthy.
United Way’s goal is to create long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of these problems. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. It has become a well-accepted culture among many individuals and employees to give to the United Way each year. There are a number of ways to help besides donating money – we can advocate and volunteer as well.
One of the key areas that the United Way supports is health. From Head Start programs, maternal health and healthy eating programs many lives are touched. One aspect of health and wellness that the United Way and so many other community funding groups do not target are physical activity participation and the resulting prevention and community productivity such an approach can deliver.
ExerWellness is a local initiative that can create a UNITED wellness culture in a community. The ExerWellness goal of connected activity can influence the health of the least active and most costly community members. It can also be fueled by any increase in activity within a community. ExerWellness and a connected community in motion can make a healthy difference in a community – the “united” way. We can be active, connect and share, log our activity and “donate” our steps, minutes and miles toward the community wellness culture change.
You may ask, “Why is it important that others are aware of our walking, hiking, running, biking or dog-walking?”
The answer lies in the power of a social network to reinforce and sustain long term habit change around leisure choices and physical activity. The simple act of logging activity and sharing it can BE THE CHANGE we need in our community to turn the tide on healthcare cost and improved quality of life.
It is fairly easy to connect with friends and begin to play games, win badges, do challenges and encourage each other. Many social apps are free. Take a look at Daily Challenge from MeYouHealth or EndoMondo for your mobile phone. SCVNGR is a location-based app that lets you and friends meet up and do something active and fun. If you don’t mind purchasing the $99 or so Nike Fuel band, you might really enjoy the Nike+ app.