By Liz LeCrone
The Holt Journal staff writer
Nine Lansing communities are participating in the 2013 Winter Warm-Up Blues Community Challenge and the competition is heating up.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is offering $12,750 in grant money to challenge Lansing communities to be more active. Starting Jan. 19, individuals and teams of up to 10 people can sign up to join their community and track their workout sessions. Every Thursday, Blue Cross will tally each community’s number of participants and level of activity and release the standings to the Winter Warm-Up Blues Community Team Coordinators.
The challenge lasts eight weeks, and on March 16 the community with the highest cumulative physical activity will win $3,500. Charlotte, Delhi Township, Delta Township, East Lansing, Grand Ledge, Lansing, Lansing Township, St. Johns and Williamston are all cheering their residents on. “You have a chance to not only exercise and get the health benefits for yourself but you are also able to benefit others in your community for your efforts,” says Kalea Delezenne, Lansing’s community team coordinator.
“I like hearing the success stories from people who have embraced the Blues Community Challenge as an opportunity to develop strong habits of regular physical activity, especially during a time of the year when it’s easy for us to forget about our health,” says B.J. Puchala, senior community liaison for Blue Cross.
So far, almost 900 people across the Lansing area have signed up and recorded the equivalent of 38,000 miles of activity. Any activity beyond normal daily exercise counts toward the community tally. “People report everything from Jazzercise classes… to shoveling snow, which is quite a bit of work, actually,” says Tricia VanderPloeg, Delhi Township’s community team coordinator.
Winter Warm-Up is also hosting weekly events in the competing communities for the first time since the program started in 2003. “That was an idea that originated with the community partners,” says Puchala, “and it’s been a great way for the participating communities to show what a strong commitment they have to helping people be more active and informed about the things they can do to improve their health.” The events are free and offer everything from indoor exercise to educational sessions about healthy living. “They’re a lot of fun,” says VanderPloeg. “There are all sorts of different things to do, and you learn something new every time.”
The program’s final event will be March 23 at the Lansing Mall from 10 a.m. to noon to celebrate the program’s completion and award prizes. “We have a celebration event at the end of the Challenge,” says Puchala, “and that’s when it’s really fun to see the difference this community partnership has made in helping people be more active.”