Genesee Employees Stride to the Finish Line to Improve their Physical Fitness

Genesee Employees Stride to the Finish Line to Improve their Physical Fitness
When Genesee Community College’s GUSTO! group introduced the “Step Up Your Steps” walking initiative in mid-May they hoped 50 people would ‘step up’ and participate in the eight-week program. At yesterday’s closing ceremony, Cathy Costello, executive assistant to the president and co-chairperson of the physical fitness initiative, was delighted to report that 126 college employees participated and collectively they walked an estimated 28,000 miles this summer!

The walking initiative was developed in cooperation with United Memorial Medical Center as part of the hospital’s diabetes awareness and prevention program. With a five-year grant from New York State Department of Health, the fitness initiative encourages people to be more active, change their eating habits, and reduce their risk of the life threatening disease.

Genesee’s GUSTO!, which is an acronym for Genesee Unites to Support Team Opportunities and is the institution’s professional staff development team, felt the program was a perfect “fit” for a summer fitness initiative promoting healthier lifestyles. 

“GUSTO! celebrated its 10th anniversary last fall. We provide training opportunities, and we also focus on wellness,” Costello said. “Step Up Your Steps fit into our GUSTO! programming perfectly.”
At the start of the program participants filled out a diabetes risk assessment survey – questions developed by the American Diabetes Association – to identify risk factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, family history, weight, height, and level of physical activity. Blood pressure was also recorded by the College’s nursing staff who were delighted with the extensive turn-out of faculty and staff from all departments and at different campus centers.

Participants joined up in teams of three or four people and created clever—or not so clever—names for their teams. It was “Kathycaroljuliejohn” who came in first place with 1,789 miles clocked on their pedometers, and “Go Take a Hike” was the second place team which walked 1,202 miles.

Since last October, Mary Brenner, health educator for Healthy Living at UMMC has been reaching out to businesses and organizations in an effort to get them to take part in the walk program. Four other groups – Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, Bank of Castile/Tompkins Insurance, Elba Central School and Genesee County Building II employees – also signed up.

Brenner said the goal for each participant is to amass 10,000 steps – or five miles per day. “A lot of research has been done into the benefits of walking that much,” she said.

Costello noted that a map of New York State was posted in the College’s staff / faculty lounge this summer and it encouraged participants to appreciate how far they had walked by keeping track of each team with tacks as they moved across the southern tier of the state. Costello said that the team captains would record the mileage each week and report their totals to Marilyn Dickinson, academic assistant to the executive vice president and the other co-chair of the “Step Up Your Steps” program.

“Everyone wore a pedometer which counts the steps. Those steps were then converted to miles.  Some employees used their break to walk in the parking lot; others walked during the lunch hour. Some walked alone after work, others rode their bike. We converted other activities into steps, such as aerobics, biking, or even mopping the floor.”

Genesee’s winning “Step Up Your Steps” teams included:

First Place / 1,789.22 miles
Kathycaroljuliejohn – Kathy Kimber, Carol Marriott, Julie Cook, John Potera

Second Place / 1,202.17 miles
Go Take a Hike – Mary Jane Shonn, Nancy Masters, Ruth Andes, Corrinne Maile.

Third Place / 1,171.10 miles
Quazy Quads – Mary Knappen, Meredith Altman, Jane Weston, Mary Hartman

Fourth Place / 1,149.89 miles
The Wanderers – Gina Regensburger, Anne Feary, Gloria Warren, Dolores Wilkin

Fifth Place / 1,123.42  miles
Sassy Striders – Marcia Gann, Kathy Yacuzzo, Patty Hume, Jamie Zielonko