Tomorrow afternoon, I provide a guest lecture in a Bio-behavioral Health class on the story of our Neighborhood Fitness Group and our Walk to School Campaign. The professor asked me to share this story as a way to talk about the profound impact of a small community effort on well-being. I talk about what changed about us all physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and even financially as neighbors connected over needs and job opportunities.
I talk about how my life changed forever through a Monday night neighborhood fitness group and a daily walking to school ritual with my neighbors.
My favorite parts of this presentation include the measurable results of such a wonderful time in our neighborhood. I talk about the number of families (nearly 50 people) who once gathered in a parking lot to ride bikes, jump ropes, and throw footballs. I talk about the day 35 people walked to school and how, on the 100th day, we made t-shirts to celebrate our 100 miles.
I talk about the hours of dancing to Michael Jackson in my basement with children who needed some exercise in the winter.
I talk about persevering year after year. This effort gained momentum in 2008 and continued till 2013 when most of the children entered high school or graduated.
Finally, I talk about the day the local news came out and wrote a story in the newspaper about our fitness group. And one afternoon, I gathered the children together to show them a letter that arrived from the White House, signed by Michelle Obama, celebrating our fitness group. We had written her a letter to talk about our ideas to fight childhood obesity and engage a community in fitness. When she wrote back, we couldn’t believe it!
It’s now 2018. Some stories, you just keep telling because they are so good.