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Get up and get moving

Suffolk residents are gearing up to get moving this month.

“Suffolk on the Move,” an initiative of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, will kick off with a 5K walk/run and one-mile fun run on June 26 at Constant’s Wharf. The event will begin a yearlong campaign intended to get Suffolk residents more active, said Katie Humphrey, who is involved with the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community.

“One of the things we wanted to do was to do a citywide campaign to help people get more active,” Humphrey said. “This event that we’re doing on June 26 is kind of our kickoff.”

The partnership’s yearlong campaign will promote walking as an easy, accessible activity that helps people get in shape.

“We want to provide an environment where everybody in Suffolk feels comfortable,” Humphrey said. “Really, what we’re trying to do is redefine the word ‘active’ for Suffolk citizens.”

Members of the group thought of the initiative several years ago, after they conducted 26 focus groups across the city with the help of a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation. Suffolk residents, they learned, needed to get moving — and, therefore, get healthier.

“If you can decrease overweight and obesity through activity, diabetes and all those things that come secondary to obesity are going to decrease,” Humphrey said. “We’re hoping we’re going to have a campaign that’s going to focus on walking. People can track their own steps and mileage, and that would allow us to get some collective data on how they’re participating.”

The group is focusing on walking because it is simple and inexpensive, Humphrey said.

“Walking is something that’s easy, and it’s cheap,” Humphrey said, adding that it can be as simple as “parking at the back end of the Walmart parking lot and walking to the store, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator.”

The group also is trying to drum up some friendly competition among different workplaces, churches, civic organizations and more.

“We’re trying to get some healthy competition,” Humphrey said. “We’re identifying community leaders, asking them not just to pass the flyer on, but to make a commitment to doing it and then challenging their neighbors, friends and employees to do it. We’re really looking for champions in neighborhoods and in churches that will go in there and really rally people.”

To jump-start the program, the 5K and one-mile walk and run will be held at Constant’s Wharf on June 26. On-site registration will be available beginning at 7 a.m., and the 5K begins at 8 a.m. The 1-mile walk begins at 8:15 a.m.

Registration is free, but those who are able are asked to donate one canned good to support Suffolk food pantries. Wheelchairs, strollers and wagons are permitted in the one-mile walk.

“We’re trying to make it as friendly as we possibly can,” Humphrey said.

To register for the walk, email Jason Pittman at jpittman@city.suffolk.va.us for a registration form.