[Guest Post by Dawn Brown]
How do you get the community involved in a wellness program that centers around Libraries? That was our question last fall, as we created the “Let’s March Into May” Community Wellness Program. Here at Springvale Public Library, we had created many ‘in house’ wellness programs for our employees and thought, why not convert this fun idea into a community wide program? So we did.
With the help of a talented and highly valued volunteer, we brainstormed our initial idea into an actual game board. We then invited our neighbors Goodall Memorial Library, Sanford-Springvale YMCA, Partners for Healthier Communities and Sanford Institution for Savings to join us. There were many meetings and lots of enthusiasm for this out-of-the- box idea before it was launched on March 1st.
The program was in the form of a game in which participants completed various ‘healthy’ tasks listed that marched them through a game board. Examples of tasks included: going for walks, attending a Library program, exercising at the YMCA, checking out a cookbook from the Library, exploring your roots at Ancestry.com and 16 other health-related tasks. As each task was completed they were able to come into either Library and get their game board stamped and earn raffle tickets for donated prizes from local organizations. Wild spaces also allowed participants to choose their own healthy option for the day. The program ran from March 1st to May 11th.
We were thrilled to have 144 people sign up; the first 25 at each library received a pedometer. During the 10 week program we had a steady stream of participants visiting the library. We concluded the program with a “Celebrate Spring” event that featured a smoothie blender bike, various venders promoting health and wellness, a mini book sale, a local band and of course PRIZES for our participants.
Our goal was to raise awareness about the important role that Libraries play in the community and how they can offer many resources to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Where else can you go to check out books on wellness or exercise DVDs and attend an educational program?
Overall, we feel the program was a huge success and we’re planning on doing it again with a few tweaks. It was a great collaboration with local organizations and the feedback from our community was tremendous and very positive. A win-win for both Libraries and participants and most importantly, it was FUN!
By Dawn Brown, Assistant Library Director
Springvale Public Library