By Liz LeCrone
Holt Journal staff writer
For eight weeks, Lansing communities have been staying active despite the winter blues. On March 23, the Winter Warm Up Blues Community Challenge had its final event, wrapping up the competition in preparation for warmer weather.
“They had the YMCA there doing Zumba classes, they had a karate instructor giving karate lessons, the city of Lansing provided a bounce house for kids to play in,” said Tricia Vanderploeg, the community coordinator for Delhi. “It was a lot of fun.”
Last year, about 2,400 people in the area joined the challenge and collectively logged nearly 209,000 miles. This year, the Lansing communities fell short of last year’s numbers, logging only 113,696 miles among 2,100 participants. Despite this drop in activity, people are pleased with the program, and are looking forward to the future. “As long as they have it and ask us to play, we’re going to play,” said Vanderploeg.
“We’ve seen some great numbers this year,” said Janine Sinno, a health policy analyst at the Ingham County Health Department.
Charlotte finished in first place, winning $3,500 in grant money from Blue Cross and walloping the competition with 45,688 miles recorded. “That’s equivalent to almost two times around the world!” said Patrick Sustrich, the community coordinator of Charlotte. “We made it around 1.8 times.”
Sustrich attributes much of Charlotte’s success to AL!VE, a destination health park in the community. The facility offers activities from cooking classes and basketball to services for women’s health and rehabilitation. Last month alone, AL!VE had 14,000 visitors from all over Michigan.
“We’ve been averaging over 300 community members a day coming to AL!VE to walk,” said Sustrich, which certainly helped Charlotte reclaim its first-place ranking after two years in second.
This year, the Blues Challenge cycled through all of the different communities, making it easier for residents to participate in special events. “There were lots of changes, and you never know how changes are going to go, but overall I think it went really well,” said Vanderploeg. “I think the communities enjoyed having it in their towns.” Delhi came in second with 25, 866 miles and received $2,500.
Alicia Armstrong is a wellness and fitness professional at Playmakers and one of the driving forces of the Community Partners in Health. “She’s the real champion,” said Sinno. Armstrong has been working for a healthier community for over ten years. “We want to really encourage healthy lifestyle habits to improve the health and wellness of the people in our community,” said Armstrong.
The Community Partners in Health helps organize the Winter Warm Up, as well as Walking in Our Community, a series of free monthly walks for all Michigan residents. Their next walk is April 20, and they will be touring campus before heading to the Green and White football game.
For information, visit the Community Partners in Health website.