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Stepping It Up for Walk Across Campus

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert Lewis with members of “CSON Insane,” the top team in last fall’s Walk Across Campus program: (L-R) Donna Cullinan, Zanifer John, Colleen Simonelli and Anne Severo. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Jan. 15, 2014

Giovanni Buonopane, lead carpenter in the Facilities Services’ Carpenter Shop, is one of Boston College’s most active employees, with a daily walk regimen of near marathon distance.

Buonopane was named the individual winner of the fall 2013 Walk Across Campus program, logging an average of 52,613 steps and 23.78 miles a day.

Walk Across Campus, part of the University’s HEALTHY YOU wellness program, encourages employees to track their walking and other activity over a period of approximately two months each semester. Participants, who each receive a Fitbit pedometer to track their progress, form teams to provide one another with support and encouragement. Results for last fall’s WAC campaign were announced at a campus event in December.

The winning team for last fall was CSON Insane, representing the Connell School of Nursing. CSON Insane recorded an average of 17,254 steps per day and traveled a total of 6,195.4 miles. In total, fall WAC participants took a combined 615,604,977 steps and walked 276,113.3 miles over the course of the two-month walking and activity campaign.

The fall WAC comprised 17,551,078 active minutes. WAC’s popularity continued to increase as well, with 1,400 employees participating in the fall, up from around 1,200 participants last spring.

“The School of Nursing feels the challenge a little bit more acutely since nurses really want to lead the way in health promotion and disease prevention,” said CSON Clinical Associate Professor Colleen Simonelli, captain of CSON Insane. CSON had four teams in the competition, representing different levels of intensity.

Simonelli logged an average of 27,833 steps and 18.47 miles a day by incorporating walking into her daily routine as often as possible — for example, walking and talking to people instead of calling or e-mailing and walking paperwork over to another department instead of faxing.  She would walk with a team member at lunchtime and stay after work and walk instead of sitting in rush-hour traffic.

“It really opened my eyes,” said Simonelli. “The biggest thing was to see how totally inactive I was.”

Another WAC participant found that walking had a positive impact on his productivity. “As I walked more, getting up to 10 miles per day, I found that my body wanted the extra walking,” said Associate Professor of Economics Harold Petersen, who walked to and from work. “And if I took time out at noon to take a walk I would be more productive for the rest of the day.  So I told myself, ‘You don’t have time not to walk,’ and took it from there.”

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Robert J. Lewis, a co-organizer for HEALTHY YOU, said, “What continues to make me feel good about the WAC — in addition to raising employees’ awareness of their health and how important it is to eat nutritiously and exercise regularly — is the collateral benefit of the camaraderie and community spirit that this friendly competition has generated.”

CSON Insane team member Zanifer John, an administrative assistant, underscored that sentiment: “I became closer to my colleagues and got to know them as friends. It made me feel like I’m a part of something.”

Registration begins Feb. 1 for this semester’s Walk Across Campus program, which runs (or rather, walks) from April 1-May 31. See for information.

Connell School of Nursing Communications Specialist O. Angela Bowser contributed to this story.