West Chicago might be the smallest city participating in the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention's Move With the Mayor Challenge this month, but Healthy West Chicago Director Andi Cooper hopes it's the most active.
"Our goal is to inspire our residents to be physically active for 30 minutes each day," she said.
Move With the Mayor datesMove with the Mayor
Registration and pre-walk yoga for the West Chicago Move with the Mayor program begin at 8:30 a.m. each Saturday in September. Walking starts at 9 a.m. There's a special program on Sept. 29.
Sept. 3: Gary School, 130 E. Forest Ave.
Sept. 10: Currier School, 800 Garys Mill Road
Sept. 17: Healthy West Chicago office, 108 Sherman St.
Sept. 24: Reed-Keppler Park, 201 W. National St.
Sept. 29: World Heart Day Celebration, 5 to 7 p.m., Pioneer Park Pavillion, 470 Forest Ave.
To get people motivated, four 30-minute weekend walks with Mayor Ruben Pineda are scheduled for September, the first of which will step off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Gary Elementary School, 130 E. Forest Ave.
It's all part of a monthlong effort introduced by the National Forum to West Chicago and five other cities nationwide -- Green Bay; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Columbia, South Carolina; and Lorain, Ohio -- to educate people about heart disease prevention.
Pineda has been inviting residents to take 5K walks with him on the weekends for about three years now, but turnout has been low. Now, with the help of Healthy West Chicago and the Move with the Mayor Challenge, his idea is gaining momentum.
"A lot of people are seeing that this just isn't something we're doing for a month and it's going to go away," he said. "We want to be the healthiest community in DuPage County, in the state, in the nation."
Registration and pre-walk yoga will begin at 8:30 a.m. each Saturday. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. Interactive maps of the routes are available at westchicago.org under "Move with the Mayor."
In addition, whether they participate in the walks or not, all residents are encouraged to visit the website to log their physical activity during the month. Steps or minutes can be entered.
"This isn't as much about collecting data on individual people, as much as it is collecting data on our community as a whole," Cooper said.
The data will be presented at the end of the month, during a World Heart Day celebration with food, music and games in Pioneer Park from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29. Aside from the free party at the end of the challenge, participants can enter raffles every Saturday they walk with the mayor, for a chance to win sports equipment, earbuds, food, T-shirts and other prizes from sponsors like Target, Supermercado Tampico, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the West Chicago Park District, Republic Bank and PNC Bank.
"People are enthused. They're ready to come walk," Cooper said. "It's been very exciting and we're looking forward to Saturday."