Worcester County Takes 3rd In Steps Challenge

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Health Department and participating residents went against 696 teams from around the country to place third in a national walking campaign.

From Feb. 9 to National Public Health Week in mid-April, 150 Worcester County residents from both public and private entities partnered together to take part in the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) 1 Billion Steps Challenge, a national competition that promotes physical activity.

Kat Gunby, director of prevention services, said Worcester County Health Department officials discovered the 1 Billion Steps Challenge back in January.

“It raised the importance of just moving and reducing chronic disease,” she said.

Volunteers with the Department of Social Services, Sysco, Worcester County Board of Education, the Worcester County Commission on Aging, Pocomoke Elementary School, the Towns of Ocean City and Snow Hill and the Worcester County government joined the health department and its various programs to participate in the challenge. Each entity was tasked with sending in their steps or mileage to the health department’s point of contact.

Between February and April, Worcester County registered approximately six million steps, or 5,000 miles, according to Gunby. She equates this to 43,000 minutes of physical activity.

The team ultimately took third place for their walking efforts behind the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Missouri’s Dent County Health Department. South Carolina, the first place winner, walked more than 78 million steps.

“It was our first try and we got third place,” she joked. “I’m sure people took more steps.”

Overall, the 696 teams, or 8,000 people, took 2.2 billion steps over the course of the challenge, according to the APHA, beating its one billion step goal.

“It’s exciting to see that people saw this as a way to promote physical activity,” Gunby said.

Although the health department saw this opportunity as a way to unite the county, Gunby has entertained the idea of making a similar challenge amongst the department’s Just Walk program, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Gunby said the health department will host other opportunities to participate in upcoming walking challenges. She said individuals can call the health department’s prevention office for more information.

“It’s a call to action for the community,” Gunby said. “By no means do we stop here. It was just one of many methods to get people physically active.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.