Wheeling Walks Training Manual

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Chapter 3:
Getting Started:
Planning for the Campaign

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Getting Started

The first step in planning any health promotion activity is to define and describe the problem. Take time to identify and gather information about the health problems that are prevalent in your community.  Be sure to check your state and county Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) results to obtain information about population and disease trends specific to your area.  We worked closely with the local and state health departments in conducting our needs assessment.  For additional data, contact federal agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Center for Health Statistics, and the National Institutes of Health. 

Once you have gathered your data and identified the health problems in your area, ask yourself, “Would a walking campaign be beneficial in addressing the health issues in my community?” If so, “How can we communicate this?”

Why we started a walking campaign in West Virginia?

The Problem:  The lack of physical activity contributes significantly to death and disability in the United States.1-4  Physical inactivity alone accounts for approximately 200,000 deaths annually.3  In West Virginia, 70 percent of the adult population reported little or no physical activity in 1998, and our population ranked third worst among the 50 states for having no leisure-time physical exercise at all.6  Seventy-eight percent of the 55  to 64 year old group reported living a sedentary lifestyle, the highest rate for any group in West Virginia.6  All of these factors combine to put West Virginia citizens at risk for overweight, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  Wheeling, WV was chosen because of its affordable media, the cooperation of local health agencies, and its proximity to West Virginia University.

The Goal:  Research shows that moderate intensity and duration of physical activity on almost every day l-4 are effective in improving cardiovascular mortality and risk factor profiles for all ages.7, 8   Walking is an activity available to almost everyone.  Income and resources are less of a barrier than for other forms of physical activity.

The Target Population:  In West Virginia, seventy-eight percent of the 55 to 64 year old age group reported living a sedentary lifestyle.6   Therefore, we chose to focus our campaign on the 50-65 age group because they are among the most sedentary in WV.


Planning for the Campaign

Who should be involved in the planning? 

 Involve partners in the campaign who will enrich the planning efforts with diversity of thought and resources.  Identify community members who can represent the target audiences and provide consumer input throughout the planning process.

Involving Community Members and Planning the Campaign with the
Community Health Participatory Planning (CHPP)

The Community Health Participatory Planning Program builds social capital by utilizing the instruction of the individual and their commitment to their own fitness and to their community.  Sessions focus on participants' commitment to their own fitness and community wide fitness in the context of the community environment with the existing resources, barriers, and policies.  This is an interesting dynamic.  When a person begins to address increasing his/her own fitness and walking, s/he begins to see the value of designing a community’s social, policy, and physical environment that will support new patterns of behavior. 

The WHEELING WALKS 12-week Community Health Participatory Planning Program was designed to involve, inform, and develop community leaders about the media-based community physical activity campaign that targets walking.  The model is predicated on the concept of participants’ experiencing the challenges of attempting to incorporate regular moderate intensity walking into their lifestyle, while addressing the walking-related needs of their own community.  We have found through this project, and several others, that an informed and involved group can help to identify the necessary components, players, resources, and strategies that will lead to the campaign’s short and long term success.  Most health professionals know a great deal about health, but in order to make sure that the walking program or other health-related programs are sustained, we need to involve the community.  No one individual can successfully identify the needs, assets, resources, barriers, and policies that impact physical activity and walking in such a way as to ensure that a campaign has staying power. 

This program component (CHPP) is so important to community health efforts that we have developed a special training module for practitioner instruction. 

However, here are the essentials:

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