Walking is central to nearly all River's Way programs. Walking on a regular basis benefits health and it creates community. For people with differing abilities, walking is one of the best ways to prevent the early onset of chronic disease. Walking is also a proven means for building social connections. Both of these benefits can be experienced in in-person programs and in virtual programs. This flexibility allows us to successfully run our walking programs during the time that we face COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.
When school is in session and when we are able to work directly with gym classes, our inclusive walking programs enable us to impact over 1,000 middle school and high school students of all abilities. Students learn how to set goals for walking laps and they spend 30- 45 minutes walking in hallways or around the school track. Our staff check in with students before and after each walking session to record the number of laps that students walk. Our Gamechangers are a part of each program and they set an example when it comes to effort and accountability. Walking programs are successful because they are inclusive, they promote 100% participation, they allow students to pursue individualized goals and they are easy to run.
In March of 2020, as a response to COVID-19 restricitions, River's Way began to conduct virtual walking programs with its participants using Under Armour's MapMyWalk app. We want this program to eventually include over 1,500 participants of all abilities. We see this as a way for our participants with differing abilities to encourage other people to better their health through walking on a regular basis. People who join our walking challenge say that it is fun, that they enjoy getting to know our participants with differing abilities and that they like the community based approach when it comes to building motivation. To join our walking group go to https://riversway.dm.networkforgood.com/forms/join-our-mapmywalk-walking-group.