Extension completes Move Alabama Challenge

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System encouraged Alabamians of all ages to stay active and have fun moving in March and April through the Move Alabama Challenge, urging residents statewide to engage in physical activities, with a goal of completing 20 of 25 activities listed on the official Move Alabama flyer. The challenge, a partnership between Extension’s Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-ED) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), aimed to foster healthy habits and incorporate regular exercise into everyday routines.

According to Kristin Sanders, SNAP-Ed coordinator for Crenshaw and Pike counties, almost 30% of all Alabamians are physically inactive, meaning they don’t do any physical activity or exercise outside of their normal work or school. She said inactivity is linked to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and increased risk of death and added that low-income families are more likely to be inactive and suffer adverse health outcomes.

“To combat these issues, Extension created Move Alabama,” Sanders said. “This community physical activity challenge provided citizens the chance to get up and moving with friends, family, and neighbors while exploring the community. This was the first year I have done Move Alabama and this is the second year the program has been offered throughout the state. I’m looking forward to coming up with more fun ideas for pop-up challenges and encourage more participants to join in on the Move Alabama Challenge next year!”

SNAP-Ed Educators at each county office were tasked to offer local pop-up challenges in addition to the challenges listed on the flyer in order to help motivate people and give citizens additional ways to participate.
In March, the Crenshaw County Extension Office hosted a Spring Break Pop-Up Challenge at E.L. Turner Park. At each “exercise stop” along the park’s walking trail, the Extension Office put up signage to encourage visitors to incorporate the exercises suggested. These exercise stops were established several years ago with the help of the Extension Office and the Alabama ALPro Health grant.

During the month of April, the Luverne Public Library offered a Book Walk Pop-Up Challenge. Visitors picked up a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and an accompanying activity sheet before they began their journey. Kids, parents and other visitors walked down a special chalk walk in the library’s butterfly garden. The path provided easy-to-follow instructions for reading the book and completing the activity sheet and encouraged visitors to have fun and move more while reading the story and children who completed the book walk were rewarded with a prize.

Kim Rogers of Highland Home participated in the Move Alabama Challenge and also toured the Book Walk. According to Rogers, the Book Walk was a fun outdoor experience to encourage children to read, explore and be active.

“In today’s technological society, with kids more sedentary than ever, it is vital for children that they get up and move,” Rogers said. “These days so many kids spend most of their time playing video games or sacked out on the couch watching T.V. The Book Walk at the library was a wonderful way to combine children’s literature with exercise, both important subjects.”

Jody Foote, assistant director at the library, noticed how the children that participated in the book walk thoroughly absorbed the experience.

“The group I saw come to the Book Walk was the Mommy & Me group [which meets Tuesdays from 10:30 – 11 a.m. at the library],” Foote said. “The children were all very engaged. It was clear to see that you do not need something over the top that is complicated to catch the children’s attention and hold it, and provide a way for them to truly learn. It is the simpler interactive activities that usually fully catch their attention and make a difference in their development.”

For more information on extension programs contact the Crenshaw County Extension office at (334) 335-6312. For more information on the multiple programs offered by the library call (334) 335-5326.