'Pokemon Go' part of Gurnee walking campaign

Gurnee Park District using 'Pokemon Go' for exercise campaign

  • Gurnee Park District Executive Director Susie Kuruvilla says it's a good idea to use "Pokemon Go" as part of an initiative to get residents walking 30 minutes a day.

      Gurnee Park District Executive Director Susie Kuruvilla says it's a good idea to use "Pokemon Go" as part of an initiative to get residents walking 30 minutes a day. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

Updated 8/6/2016 5:05 PM

"Pokemon Go" is being used to attract more participants in a Gurnee Park District campaign to get residents out and walking for exercise.

Building on what officials said was a successful initial effort at using the trendy mobile-device game as part of the Go Gurnee program, a second gathering is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Viking Park on Old Grand Avenue.


Park District Executive Director Susie Kuruvilla said if the application is leading to players being outside in search of the Japanese-based creatures, it's worth trying to make it part of Go Gurnee.

"We always try to fight technology, saying children are staying home because of technology, they're not getting out and moving," Kuruvilla said Friday. "But here's an opportunity to combine technology and physical activity. So that's where we thought it's an innovative idea for us to just tag along and get people engaged."

"Pokemon Go" players look at their devices while going to places known as Poke Stops and Pokemon "gyms" that have included cemeteries, shopping centers, churches, parks and libraries. The devices' GPS helps players find Pokemon -- fictional creatures with various characteristics and strengths -- wherever they are in the real world.

About 150 people attended Gurnee's first "Pokemon Go" gathering July 28 at Viking Park.

"We saw people -- families, younger kids, teenagers, young adults -- a wide variety of age groups of people come to that event," Kuruvilla said. "And everybody who came, we kind of went around and talked to many people and asked them for their feedback. And they all said, 'We would love for you to do this again.'"

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Similar to last month's meetup, park officials on Tuesday night will activate "Pokemon Go" lures to accompany three Poke Stops and two "gyms" on a walking route in Viking Park.

Backed by support from leaders at other government agencies, clubs, religious organizations and businesses, the park district began Go Gurnee with a rally at Viking Park and a 30-minute walk that drew about 300 people on an inclement evening May 1. Residents, prodded by neighborhood leaders and social media, have been encouraged to walk 30 minutes daily.

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.

Jennifer Gilbert, the park district's director of marketing and community relations, said inquiries have been received from agencies in other suburbs and out of state considering duplicating Go Gurnee. She sad the park district will share its Go Gurnee logo, designed in house, with other programs.

"Of course, many of our park district colleagues throughout Lake and Cook (counties) are monitoring our movement and looking for ways to make the idea their own or possibly have other 'Go' communities in the future utilizing brand materials we developed at Gurnee Park District," Gilbert said.

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