In an effort to promote health and wellness, the Starkville community has come together to take part in a walking challenge called the "Starkville Stride Challenge" or "Starkville Stride."
Beginning on March 1 and continuing through April 26, Starkville Stride is a health-betterment event being hosted by the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, whose goal is to enhance and improve the quality of life for Starkville residents and Mississippi State University students.
Hunter Harrington, the director of membership development for the partnership, proposed the idea of Starkville Stride.
"About six months ago, we started thinking of ways that the community could participate in some form of health and wellness challenge," Harrington said. "We partnered with 'Walker Tracker,' a company which made an app that can tally up everybody's steps by syncing with your smart device, so we bought into the app for the challenge."
Harrington hoped to design an event which could involve all residents of Starkville, including any age range, occupation and fitness level in the community.
"We have had 750 participants sign up for the challenge," Harrington said. "A big, big thank you to our partners with this challenge. We definitely could not have done this by ourselves. We reached out to OCH Regional Medical Center and MSU Cowbell Well and Starkville Parks and Recreations, and so, it was a collaboration with all four entities, which encompassed the whole city."
Starkville Stride is composed of weekly goals, and participants who reach the goals will be entered into weekly drawings for a variety of prizes. These prizes include gift cards to local businesses, including gym memberships, boutique prizes and even a Botox appointment donated by a local dermatologist.
"Weekly door prizes are based in weekly step-counts. So we have a category of 25,000 to 49,999 steps, another category of 50,000 to 74,999, and we'll have a category for 75,000 steps or more for weekly prizes," Harrington said. "We're giving over $1,800 in cash prizes at the end."
Although the focus of the challenge is to get Starkville residents outside and active, Harrington said Starkville Stride is promoting the use of various public amenities, such as sidewalks and parks, that the city has to offer.
"We have a ton of resources available, so educating the community on that is important to us," Harrington said. "It's just pulling the community together and hitting the focus areas of getting healthy and staying active and that, in turn, affects your quality of life."
Elaine Schimpf, the health promotions coordinator for the OCH Regional Medical Center Wellness Connection, has played a significant role in the collective efforts to bring about Starkville Stride.
"I'm one of the collaborators with Starkville Parks and Rec, MSU and the Partnership. The four of us got together and brainstormed to see how we could get the community involved in walking and just trying to better themselves," Schimpf said.
Schimpf has been leading videos and programs broadcasted on social media which promote health and betterment for Starkville Stride. From virtual touring of the Wellness Connection gym to leading workout videos for Starkville Stride, Schimpf has been a lead coordinator for these programs.
"What I have done mostly is help promote and get people on teams, as well as getting speakers for the daily Facebook posts they do," Schimpf said.
As well as being one of the Starkville Stride coordinators, Schimpf is participating in the challenge on a team with her Wellness Connection coworkers.
"At first, I wasn't going to participate because I get a lot of steps a day, so I was thinking it might not be fair. But since it is a competition in which they take an average for the team, that helped the employees decide, 'Why not?' And it's all for fun," Schimpf said. "I'd much rather participate than sit on the sidelines."
Melissa Rogers, the Chick-fil-A community director, is an ambassador for the Starkville Partnership and a participant in Starkville Stride.
By involving Chick-fil-A employees in the Starkville Stride event as a team, Rogers and her husband, owner/operator of Chick-fil-A Starkville, are furthering their goal of promoting unity in the restaurant for their team members, as well as connecting with the community.
"It's another opportunity we have to create that family atmosphere that we strive to have. It's one of our core values, and another of our core values is fun. So anything we can do that is different and unique and participate in the greater Starkville community — that's only going to strengthen who we are, to make us even more effective as Chick-fil-A to the community," Rogers said.
As an ambassador for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, Rogers is very involved in the planning and orchestrating of the Partnership events, as she helps promote their ideas to the community.
Rogers said the Starkville Stride event is proving to be successful as it begins to head towards its goal of improving community unity and health.
"It's really just an effort to get people out and moving in Starkville, and it's a great way to get businesses and organizations to work together as a team to do that," Rogers said. "This is health and wellness focused, and just getting outdoors and walking, just breathing fresh air and doing something relaxing and fun and good for your body, is also good for your mind."