A Publication of WTVP

Health care is a major issue in Peoria and throughout the country. During the past year, the Peoria Area Labor Management Council (PALM) has been working diligently to engage various stakeholders to discuss the future of health care in Peoria. In particular, they're stressing the importance of making lifestyle decisions that benefit an individual's health. They started in 2003 with the Moon Walk, which was a program to encourage people to walk, in essence, to the moon and back. Recently, PALM held a two-day symposium on the Coronary Health Improvement Program (CHIP). The inventor of the program, Dr. Hans Diehl, was here to assist Peoria in developing a program that can lead us to improved lifestyles and improved health.

The City of Rockford has already embraced the CHIP program as part of improving their population's health. Rockford invited PALM Executive Director Dave Koehler and others from Peoria to learn more about the CHIP experience and the benefits to date. Koehler wanted to return the favor by sharing the Moon Walk program. Accordingly, he challenged Rockford to race Peoria to the moon and back. The Rockford Health Council, led by Executive Director Ray Empereur, has accepted the challenge to mobilize their population to walk to the moon and back before Peoria's participants complete their journey. Empereur was in Peoria April 1 to officially accept the challenge on behalf of Rockford.

Every one of us should be committed to improving public health through the adoption of healthful behaviors. Research shows walking just 30 minutes per day, five or more days a week, can help prevent, arrest, and reverse major health issues like obesity, heart disease, hypertension, Type II diabetes, and depression.

That research was the impetus for Moon Walk 2003, a Peoria tri-county pedometer walking program that challenged participants to pool their walked miles to reach the distance from the earth to the moon: 238,700 miles. The program enticed more than 2,600 people and 35 groups to log and report a total of 463,207 miles over a seven-month period, "landing" them on the moon in just four months and nearly bringing them back home. Moon Walk 2004 encourages even more walkers to get involved and sets a new goal: 477,400 miles in six months. That's the distance to the moon-and back-in one less month than last year's program.

Moon Walk 2004 launched April 1 with a day-long celebration featuring walking enthusiast Robert Sweetgall, who's walked across the United States seven times. All of us should remember health is a personal responsibility. Encourage your employees to get involved. Let's get healthier at the same time we're defeating Rockford. IBI