MUSCATINE, Iowa–For 10 years, the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative has encouraged people to get active through their annual walk each October. This year, with the assistance of a Healthiest State and Iowa Parks and Recreation Association mini grant of $500, the Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department held its own Community Walk. The event, which took place Oct. 7 in Weed Park, highlighted indoor and outdoor walking opportunities across the city.
Because this year’s Community Walk represents the first Muscatine has ever held in conjunction with the Healthiest State initiative, Muscatine Parks and Recreation Program Supervisor Kelsie Stafford said that she and others in the department did not know how many people to expect. However, good weather and enticing incentives brought about 75 people out to walk around the first loop of the Weed Park trail. “I’m really excited about it,” Stafford said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with this year,” she added.
Stafford also took pride in the fact that Muscatine’s walk made up one of only four in the state that received the jointly funded mini grant, which allowed for the purchase of promotional materials, snacks, and t-shirts for participants. She also thanked Hy-Vee for donating complimentary bottled water for the walkers.
Along with their free shirt and banana, walk participants got maps of Muscatine’s outdoor trails as well as information about the Muscatine Walking Cub, an indoor walking opportunity at the mall where participants can work towards goals and earn incentives provided by local businesses. These include gift certificates to Muni and the aquatic center, as well as discount coupons for area restaurants such as Culver’s and Happy Joe’s. “It has a lot of support from the community and the business community,” emphasized Stafford. For those who could not attend, the Parks and Recreation Department has additional information about the Muscatine Walking Club on their website.
Through holding the Community Walk on a beautiful afternoon and disseminating information about all of the walking opportunities Muscatine has to offer, Stafford hopes many local residents will find ways to work walking into their daily routines. “We just want to encourage people to stay physically active,” she shared. Stafford also anticipates people using walking as a safe way to exercise outside of the house during the COVID-19 pandemic, as wide open outdoor spaces make social distancing significantly easier. “This is one of the safest ways to exercise,” stressed Stafford.
The Muscatine Community Y also held a walk as part of the Healthiest State Initiative. About 20 people participated in and benefited from the walk, to the delight of Marketing and Development Director Nicole McCleary: “Nature and fresh air, a simple walk for 30 minutes, mental health and physical health – they’re all related and build on each other; they all help us feel better in so many ways.”