For years, Mayor Ruben Pineda has been working to get the city of West Chicago more active.
Now, his efforts will be put on a national stage.
West Chicago is one of six cities nationwide selected by the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to take part in a Move With the Mayor challenge in September.
Residents in West Chicago; Green Bay; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Columbia, South Carolina; and Lorain, Ohio, will aim to walk for 30 minutes per day for the month. The challenge is not a competition between the cities, but instead just a way to motivate mayors and residents to get moving.
For the past three years, Pineda has been hosting his own Walk With the Mayor 5K events, inviting residents to walk with him around the city on weekend mornings.
But Healthy West Chicago Director Andi Cooper said the Move With the Mayor challenge is going to be a much larger project.
Instead of continuing his 5K walks in September, Pineda is decreasing the distance to about 1.5 miles, or a total of 30 minutes, to meet the National Forum's goal and make walking less intimidating for families.
"My goal is to get the kids to get out there," he said. "We'll try to get something there to excite them, to get them motivated."
Eventually, he hopes to supply every student in West Chicago with a pedometer.
Cooper hopes the city will be inspired by Pineda's efforts. "If our busy mayor can take 30 minutes to walk, so can you."
Participants will be entered into raffles for prizes and encouraged to log their steps during the month on a yet-to-be launched website.
All walks are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Starting locations include Gary Elementary on Sept. 3, Currier Elementary on Sept. 10, the Healthy West Chicago office on Sept. 17 and Reed-Keppler Park on Sept. 24. The challenge will conclude with a celebration in a park from 5 to 7 p.m. on World Heart Day, Sept. 29.
Principals, teachers and other administrators from West Chicago Elementary District 33 have already committed to attending the walks and organizers hope there will be a big turnout of students.
"It's very exciting to see how all the partners are coming together to make this a communitywide event," Cooper said. "It's going to be a good time and it makes us all healthier."