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Community Planning Groups across Garrett County are using alternative approaches during June to motivate their communities to increase physical activity. The theme for the overall project is “Every body needs physical exercise.” This physical activity program stresses the benefits of exercising as a family to establish lifelong habits, provide extra motivation and encouragement, and allow for more communication time.

“Although COVID-19 requires social distancing and being apart from each other, that doesn’t mean we need to be cut off from our community,” said Sandy Miller, Prevention Supervisor at the Garrett County Health Department. “These creative initiatives are helping to bring the communities together without taking the chance of sharing the coronavirus.”

Accident Community Planning group is coordinating a physical challenge. Group members send in pictures of their physical activity and log their activity on a shared google document. One family group of 10 did a 10-mile bike ride for one of their activities. As a part of their challenge, each week a name is randomly drawn to receive a prize of a physical activity game. The final prize for the challenge will be a yearly pass to Maryland State Parks.

Crellin Outreach Partnerships is sponsoring a 3-week Physical Activity Challenge, asking participants to record at least one activity they did either alone, or with their family. For each week they record an activity, they earn a chance in a drawing for a yearly Maryland State Park Passport or a Fitbit. Participants may earn a second entry each week for recording 7 miles of walking or running, or 30 minutes of physical activity for at least 5 of the 7 days.

The Friendsville Community Watch is coordinating a Physical Challenge on their Facebook page. The coordinator posts prevention messages and participants are asked to comment and post a picture of the physical activity. Weekly random drawings are done for a gift card to businesses in Friendsville. Participants have engaged in many different activities, including walking, kayaking, bike riding, playing in the river, hiking, swimming, gymnastics, garden planting, slip-n-slide, and kids doing barn work, pogo sticks, and playing in a bouncy house.

The Club 21550 Planning group is coordinating a 5-week walking challenge. Each week participants log their miles. Anyone who walks at least 5 miles for at least 4 of the weeks will earn a Farmer’s Market Certificate. If they walk 10 miles for 4 of 5 weeks they earn a greater value Farmer’s Market Certificate. There are 60 participants doing the walking challenge.

Kitzmiller Empowerment Group is coordinating two different contests at once on their Facebook page. The first activity is a physical challenge activity. Participants are asked do physical activity and complete a Google survey at the end of the week recording their activities to be eligible for a prize drawing. The second contest consists of wellness activities and is designed to help people be more aware of stress and their mental wellness. Wellness activities are posted each Monday and participants are asked to comment when they completed the activity and what they did. Activities have included such things as going outside and doing something to relax, and using a breathing technique to relax. At the end of each week a participant is randomly chosen to receive a prize.

Community Planning Groups are community-based groups comprised of volunteers, both youth and adults, who plan and carry out drug-free activities for youth and their families. For more information about any of the groups, call the Garrett County Health Department at 301-334-7730 or 301-895-3111. Activities of community planning groups are designed to promote healthy living and prevent risky behaviors and are supported by the Garrett County Health Department through funding from the Maryland Department of Health and SAMHSA.

Cutline: Many families throughout Garrett County are participating in physical activities coordinated by Community Planning Groups. Pictured above are Shane and Stephanie Mayle, and their children Emaley, Coy, and Kaelyn on one of their family walks. Stephanie said, “We enjoy walking together at the Friendsville Park because it’s so peaceful with the river running beside you as you walk.” Exercising as a family establishes lifelong habits, provides extra motivation and encouragement, and allows for more communication time.