Rise and Walk Middlebury is a walking program started by Michele Gilbert, RiseVT’s Addison County Program Manager, in partnership with Porter Medical Center. The goal of Rise and Walk is to connect providers with community members and encourage physical activity. Each week a group of community members come together for an 8-10 minute health talk led by a local healthcare provider followed by a group walk around the community.
The talks are intentionally kept short to keep community members engaged and to allow for plenty of discussion. Throughout the walk, providers are encouraged to start at the front of the walking group and then drop back to engage with individuals who appreciate a slower pace. This provides a chance for short one-on-one discussions between providers and community members.
During the first Rise and Walk series, participants started in the parking lot of a local Addison County elementary school and circled through downtown Middlebury. Michele chose the walking route to highlight the ease of walking to downtown Middlebury from the school. At the time of the first Rise and Walk session, Middlebury was undergoing substantial road construction, which made parking downtown difficult. Michele’s program demonstrated that community members could easily park and walk into downtown to support local businesses throughout the construction period.
POST PANDEMIC PROGRAM UPDATE: As with much of RiseVT’s work, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a shift in the work to focus more on virtual offerings. Michele had to cancel her 2020 Rise and Walk Middlebury program in accordance with social distancing rules from the Vermont Department of Health (VDH). In response to this guidance from VDH, RiseVT pivoted to host a virtual statewide Rise and Walk. The virtual session asked Vermonters to walk three times a week for 30 minutes a day and focused on sharing health talks from providers across the state. The program was a collaboration between all RiseVT Program Managers, each of whom recorded a short 8-10 minute virtual talk with a local provider. Rise and Walk participants were emailed the recorded talks and encouraged to log their walks via surveys. Three hundred and thirty eight participants signed up for the statewide Rise and Walk program. Other county specific virtual Rise and Walk challenges have also been successful since the pandemic began. They have helped to motivate individuals, including those with chronic disease such as diabetes, to move their bodies.
I loved the Rise and Walk Challenge. I am a life skills aid for a man with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and it was a great challenge to do together. It motivated him to be more physically active and got us in a routine. Now that the challenge is over, we plan on keeping up the walk 3 days a week but working on walking 4 days a week together. During Covid it gave us something to look forward to and do together.
As we begin to come out of the pandemic in 2021, Michele hopes to restart an in person Rise and Walk Middlebury. This summer she wants to involve local businesses in the effort to highlight how individuals can support their local economy while getting activity into their daily life. This core tenant of walkable neighborhoods is so important for creating healthy communities.
Rise and Walk Middlebury most closely aligns with CDC Strategy to encourage physical activity or limit sedentary activity.