A family that walks together, stays healthy together. This is the Brooke Hooker family of Gurnee. – Gurnee Park District/GO GURNEE
by Tina Johansson
It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And Gurnee must be blushing right now, or at least very proud that it has inspired some of its neighbors.
GO GURNEE, a 30 minute walking event started last year by the Gurnee Park District appears to be catching on. Neighboring communities Antioch and Waukegan have adopted a similar movement along with a county-wide fitness crusade.
“We are excited to see the same GO logo attached to GO Waukegan, GO Antioch and GO Lake County. Gurnee Park District’s vision for GO GURNEE movement was to positively impact the lives of everyone in the Gurnee community and then to expand it to other local communities and eventually take it to the state and national levels. We are pleased that in less than a year, the movement has already spread to three other communities,” said Susie Kuruvilla, executive director for the park district. “The movement is simple. Make a commitment to walk at least 30 minutes each day. That’s truly it.”
GO GURNEE was created in response to U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s, call to action at the National Recreation and Park Association Conference in September 2015. His challenge focused on the health benefits for people of all ages and stages of life walking at least 30 minutes each day.
Under the leadership of Jennifer Gilbert, Director of Marketing and Community Relations, a team of Gurnee Park District staff designed GO GURNEE from the ground up. As the name, logo and brand are very easily identifiable, other communities have found it easy to adopt the program by attaching their community name to the GO logo.
“As partners in Lake County wide community health improvement initiatives, we were very excited when we first heard about the GO GURNEE initiative, said Jon Ashworth, coordinator for the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center. “Then, after meeting together with Susie Kuruvilla and Jennifer Gilbert, we were even more excited. They expressed to us their vision to help to contribute to a larger cultural shift towards healthy and active living throughout Lake County. And that is what we want to see too. Since that time, Gurnee Park District has been extremely supportive of the expansion of the “GO” initiative throughout Lake County.”
Sean Collins, a health specialist with the health department added that he is hopeful that by participating in the simple act of walking, participants will improve their overall health.
GO walking partner, Waukegan Park District, was one of the first to join the movement. “Our goal is to attract individuals who do not walk or exercise to participate (in the movement) and educate them on the benefits of walking.” said Jay Lerner, superintendent of recreation for the Waukegan Park District. “We were eager to jump on board with the GO Waukegan campaign because it fits perfectly with our initiative to improve people’s lives through health and wellness activities.”
“It is our shared vision to work together to make Lake County, Illinois the healthiest place to live, work and play,” said Ashworth.
The GO walking movement is truly going places. “With the support of these agencies, we can make a difference in our communities,” added Kuruvilla.