Building Community Through Movement

Building Community Through Movement


I have been fortunate enough to get to know Brian Finch, MSPT, CSCS (@AlpineAthlete) over the past year or two through social media. Brian is the Physical Therapy Clinical Manager for Rutland Regional Medical Center in Rutland, Vermont. He is an avid runner and skier with a passion for building community. I asked Brian to talk about how he has been instrumental in building community through Wellness activities in his town.

Brain shared the following:

I’m incredibly fortunate to live in a New England community that values cultural and educational richness. Our residents are so concerned about this, it’s not uncommon to hear the terms duty or role associated with community events. It’s quite understood that during the summer, the right thing to do is to buy your fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ market. It is also not uncommon for individuals to say things like, “It’s my responsibility to go spend $30.00 or $40.00 at the annual Art in the Park event.” Our community understands how participation is vital if we expect to have a robust cultural and educational environment. Many of my fellow friends and peers are actively mentoring our local high school students much in the same way that we take high school students & DPT students on a regular basis in my workplace.

A few years ago, several therapists began to think about community fitness and wellness in much the same light. We decided that it was really our responsibility to start attending events and talking up opportunities to our friends and families. Our local Parks and Recreation Department had a small series of trail runs and road races that would occasionally draw a couple dozen people. If you are not from New England, you may not know that running is the unifying force of nature in this part of the world. I was unaware when I moved to this part of the country, yet was quickly inducted into their cultural rituals. Nearly everyone runs or has a running partner or has a favorite lap or route in the area.

As a way to support community wellness, we began attending these races with good regularity and bringing our friends and family. It didn’t really matter where you finished, it just mattered that you showed up and had a good time. The bulk of these activities were held after work around 6 o’clock during the spring and summer, making it easy for folks to attend.

As a physical therapist, one of my greatest responsibilities to the profession is to help advance the groupthink around how we move as a society and how we take an active role in our own health and well-being. When the Parks and Recreation Department started noticing our regularity at their events, they quickly asked us if we had any interest in helping support or run them as well. We were excited because a typical evening event now drew 40 to 50 people. Levitra 20 mg.

We decided that it was our community responsibility to step up sponsor, facilitate, advertise and run some of these activities in the community that were getting people connected to jogging or walking. The events were appropriate for all fitness levels, as they were done in a looped fashion. An individual could show up and walk as little as one lap and socialize with the field.

This became the “Go Play” series of 12 races that included a mountain bike subgrouping, a cross country series, a mountain run trail series, triathalon, & a couple road races. We purchased an easy up tent and readily set up a table with refreshments and information. Individuals enjoyed this so much that they started bringing more people even when it was pouring rain! Throughout the crowd, we would hear chatter that “it’s our responsibility to show up and be healthy tonight.”

As we thought about fitness for all members of the community, we realized that we were not seeing the levels of younger adults and students that we were expecting. We decided that the right thing to do was to use our sponsorship of the series to not only promote to, but also to cover the entry of any junior athlete that was interested in participating. Additionally, we offered to cover the entry of any of our 1400 employees that work at our regional medical center.

Shortly thereafter, we had the Humane Society joining us and individuals were encouraged to bring their animals out to the activities. We had a number of vendors who decided they wanted to come and build a festival like activity alongside our tent. And most excitingly, we had developed a tailgating community after the event were people socialized and chatted about the events of the day and reflected on how we could engage the community further. By this point we are routinely seeing triple digit figures for participation and word-of-mouth was spreading.

Since then, several exciting items have come from this venture. The same teens that we enticed to come out and race set up their own Turkey Trot for Thanksgiving which raises over $2,000.00 for the Community Cupboard Food Bank. Locals are proudly driving around with “Go Play” series stickers on their cars. There is planned 55k ultra marathon for this fall. Unique to this event will be use of a small loop format, teams, multiple aide stations & a festival arena to promote the event. The event is more about socialization with a lesser focus on results. We’re plotting the 2014 version today and have already had businesses and vendors request be “looped in”. Most exciting is a commitment to develop a new “Get up & Go” series. The idea behind this is to have the same energy focused toward getting community members and former patients to come walk a quarter mile nature loop. What this has taught us is that community is everyone’s responsibility and shaping it can be the path to connecting folks to healthier life choices.

What are some ways your clinic has promoted Wellness through community activities?




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