Healthy Haywood Fitness Challenge wins another state award Print

The Haywood County Fitness Challenge is one of nine programs from across North Carolina to win a 2006 Outstanding County Program Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

David Nicholson, a member of the selection committee for the Outstanding County Program Awards, and Robin Bradley, NCACC member services associate for NCACC, presented the award during the April 2 meeting of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners. Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick, who also serves on the Haywood County Board of Health, accepted the award on behalf of the county.

A press release issued by the NCACC stated that the Fitness Challenge was selected for taking an “active” interest in the health of its employees and its citizens. Executive Director David F. Thompson said that the purpose of the Outstanding County Program Awards is to highlight some of the outstanding work going on in North Carolina counties.

“As the demands being placed on county governments become more complex, counties are forced to find new solutions to old problems,” Thompson said. “This awards program is a way to bring attention to excellent programs that other counties might want to emulate.”

Started in 2002, the Fitness Challenge is sponsored and organized by Healthy Haywood’s Obesity Prevention Action Team (formerly the Haywood Physical Activity Coalition) through the Haywood County Health Department. The goal of the project is to engage businesses and agencies in a collaborative effort to enhance Haywood residents’ physical activity and fitness.

The Fitness Challenge allows participants to make up to 24 visits to local fitness centers during an eight-week period for a $10 fee. Participants also are encouraged to participate in other physical activity throughout the county, such as hikes, bike rides and basketball; and are given the option of “tracking” their physical activity by keeping a record. If participants reached a certain level, they receive prizes, such as gift certificates and gym memberships. In 2006, the program drew 600 participants.

“During a time in which public health funding is scarce, Haywood County has created an innovative, self-sustaining and fun program that will benefit the future of all its citizens,” the NCACC press release stated.

This marks the second state award received by the Fitness Challenge in recent months. In October 2006, the program received a Golden Projects Award from the state office of Healthy Carolinians. During the commissioners meeting, Healthy Haywood Coordinator Steffie Duginske recognized representatives from the seven area fitness centers that participate in the Fitness Challenge. They include Kim’s Gym, Haywood Regional Health and Fitness Center, the Waynesville Recreation Center and the Armory, World Gym in Canton, and Curves in Canton and Waynesville. She also recognized members of the Obesity Prevention Action Team that coordinates the Fitness Challenge.

About 1,300 people have registered to participate in the 2007 Fitness Challenge, which began in March. For more information, contact Duginske at 452-6675, ext. 2270.