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Event gets people moving





Walk Kansas, a health initiative by the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Services, and Leadership 310 at Fort Hays State University hosted its first Mall Walk on Saturday.

The 13th annual Walk Kansas is an eight-week program where teams of six pick a fitness-based challenge. Teams can choose between walking 423 miles, 843 miles or 1,200 miles -- which is the entire perimeter of Kansas.

"It began with the health specialist from the Extension office who wanted to create something where people all over the state were working on their health all at once," said Linda Beech, county coordinator for Walk Kansas. "Each year, we have 18,000 to 20,000 people participate from all over the state."

The Mall Walk, which attracted 21 participants, aimed to raise awareness of the goal of Walk Kansas.

"(Leadership 310 students) are here to explain the program, raise awareness and get people moving," Beech said.

The Mall Walk encouraged shoppers and employees to walk twice around the mall. For every two laps, the person was entered into a drawing to win a small prize.

"Our primary goal is to get people up and moving," said senior Nikki Rabe, a member of the Leadership 310 team.

"We want to get them out of the house and adopt a healthier lifestyle. We hope after the eight weeks, they will continue to exercise without the program."

Rabe chose the project because of the versatility of the target audience.

"I was interested in this project because it's not just one audience," she said. "Anyone can participate, and it doesn't just target one type of person."

The program also monitors fruit and vegetable intake.

"Everything is recorded online," Rabe said. "So you can track the progress of your team."

Beech said the program is team-based because of the benefits of having additional encouragement.

"This works best with teams of six," she said. "The group members can encourage, motivate and keep each other accountable."

Although it is not a competition and no rewards are given, Beech said she aims to give participants a much greater reward.

"The reward comes from the personal benefits of knowing you feel better, are moving and are healthier overall," she said.

Walk Kansas begins March 16. For more information or to sign up, visit walkkansas.org.