Gurnee leaders are banding together to get residents out and moving in an effort promoting good health.
It'll be simple to participate in the Go Gurnee campaign. Residents are encouraged to walk 30 minutes a day in May, preferably starting at 6:30 p.m. so the entire community can be out at the same time.
Gurnee Park District Executive Director Susie Kuruvilla said she was spurred into the initiative after U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke about the physical and mental health benefits from walking at least 30 minutes each day during a national industry conference she attended last fall.
"That really inspired us," Kuruvilla said. "As park and recreation professionals, we thought that it was in our mission and our duty to make sure that we encourage our community to walk. Not only in our own personal lives. We felt that as a park district, it makes sense for getting the entire community engaged in that activity."
Backed by support from leaders at other government agencies, clubs, religious organizations and businesses, the park district will launch Go Gurnee at 6 p.m. Sunday. Plans call for a rally at Viking Park, 4374 Old Grand Ave., followed by a 30-minute walk at 6:30 p.m.
Residents will be sought through the inducement of a free special T-shirt to become a "champion" for Go Gurnee. The champions from across the village will be expected to invite and encourage their neighbors to participate, using social media, emails and in-person visits.
Park board member Libby Baker said she's excited about Go Gurnee and complimented Kuruvilla and other employees for getting a variety of village interests on board.
"I think a lot of other communities and other states are going to look to Gurnee setting the example," Baker said. "I think sometimes people need that motivation of something a little more formal. Everybody can walk on their own, but by the park district setting the example and saying, 'This is important,' people want to come out and be part of that."
Walking is a way to meet physical activity guidelines for Americans. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination each week, according to the surgeon general.
Children and adolescents should be active for at least 60 minutes daily.
Those who follow the guidelines can contribute to overall health, the surgeon general says, and decrease the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
Kuruvilla said she hopes to see the sidewalks and parks busy with walkers.
"Our hope is that the culture of Gurnee will change with this initiative, that people will make it a habit to walk every day," she said. "And whether it is at 6:30 (p.m.) or whether it's at 7:30, the important thing is that you walk for 30 minutes each day."
Park officials said the plan is to have events and programs after the first stage of Go Gurnee is completed in May.