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Walking Across Campus Sets Good Pace

01/31/13
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Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert Lewis (third from right) with members of "BC Trades." (Photo by Megan Burkes)

By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Jan. 31, 2013

Keeping fit and staying healthy doesn’t have to be a lonely pursuit, and that’s why HEALTHY YOU, Boston College’s employee health and wellness initiative, sponsors events and activities that bring members of the University community together.

One of the best examples is the revamped Walk Across Campus program, which began as an individual event several years ago through Campus Recreation. This past fall, Walk Across Campus was integrated into HEALTHY YOU as a major component of the fall schedule. Under its new format, Walk Across Campus became a two-month walking/activity campaign featuring friendly team competitions, and participants received a Fitbit pedometer to track their progress.

“The response exceeded our expectations,” said Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert Lewis. “We had 850 employees sign up, forming 55 teams in all. Over the two-month period, the participants logged close to 200,000 miles, and more than 600 of the 850 walked at least 150 miles.”

By popular demand, Lewis said, Walk Across Campus will be part of this semester’s HEALTHY YOU schedule — first-time participants will each receive a Fitbit — and the “kickoff walk” will take place April 1 at noon outside 129 Lake St. on Brighton Campus; the program runs until May 31. Notices about the spring program will be sent out in February with registration opportunities scheduled to begin by mid February.

More than 300 Walk Across Campus participants attended a celebration of the program in early December, where team and individual achievements in categories such as “Highest Active Score,” “Most Improved” and “Most Steps” were recognized; winners received prizes such as BC Bookstore gift certificates, Flynn Recreation Complex T-shirts, one-year membership to Campus Recreation and a free month of health insurance.

Numbers alone don’t reflect the positive effect of the program, Lewis added. “An important byproduct was the camaraderie and community spirit that Walk Across Campus generated among the teams and participants. People had a lot of fun — it even got to the point where some teams would engage in amiable ‘trash talk,’ and challenge each other to contests all in the name of good fun.

“We seem to have tapped into a competitive spirit among employees that encouraged participants and teams to really give it their best, so we’re very pleased with this outgrowth of HEALTHY YOU.”

BC employees John Bogdan and Carla Boudreau, who captained two of the Walk Across Campus teams last fall, can attest to the social and personal benefits of the program.

Bogdan, director of employment for Human Resources, led “The 129 Lakers,” an HR group named for their office’s address on Brighton Campus that for its collective goal chose to “get better each week,” he said. As part of its activity, the group would get together once a week for a tour of campus locations such as the McMullen Museum of Art, the School of Theology and Ministry Library and Stokes Hall.

“These are places we drive by all the time, so we thought, ‘Why not walk?’” said Bogdan. “We got to know more about the BC campus and some of the history behind it.”

As The 129 Lakers tracked their progress, Bogdan said, they would exchange motivational quotes by e-mail. “Where before we might have just talked about something in the news, or a TV show we saw, now we were trying to find or think of things to say that would encourage each other. It definitely helped us form a bond.”

Boudreau, grant manager at the Connell School of Nursing, headed up a team whose name — “The IDs” (Interdisciplinary Departments) — reflected a diversity of workplaces, including the Psychology Department, the Office of the Provost, and Alumni Relations.

“I think one important outcome for us, as a group of people who were scattered across campus and didn’t necessarily know each other very well,” said Boudreau, “was learning what it’s like to come together for a common goal [10,000 steps per week] and what goes into keeping that commitment.”

HEALTHY YOU’s other spring offerings include a presentation by Terri Trespicio ’95, “Keep Moving: Gain Momentum in Your Health, Your Habits, and Your Life,” on April 4, and two free “Know Your Numbers” biometric screenings on March 6 and April 11. On May 1, HEALTHY YOU will host representatives from the American Cancer Society, who will conduct enrollment appointments for a cancer prevention study.

In addition, this semester HEALTHY YOU teamed with Campus Recreation to offer half-price programs in yoga, weight loss, swimming and other activities. The response “was very good,” according to Lewis, and registration for the programs is now closed.

 For more information, see the Boston College HEALTHY YOU website at www.bc.edu/healthy-you.