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How to Plan a Wellness Walk

people walking

A health fair is an event where organizations have an opportunity to disseminate health information to the public at booths and/or to provide health screenings. Health fairs are usually co-sponsored by groups, including hospitals, churches, sororities, and community organizations. They may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. This document will give you planning tips on how to coordinate a health fair in your community.

Ten Planning Steps

  1. Form a committee of sponsors and planners to discuss logistics of the walk, including insurance coverage, legal requirements, waiver forms, emergency personnel availability, date, and time.
  2. Designate a meeting area, time, and location for the walk. Walks can vary in distance, so determine how far you want the group to walk. Walk the distance and time it takes before confirming the location. Factor in additional time for welcoming remarks, warm-up stretching exercises, and other activities when determining how much time you will need.
  3. Order materials you may want to give away at the walk, such as T-shirts, fact sheets on physical activity and other health issues, and/or bottles of water.
  4. After getting appropriate clearances, publicize the event at least two weeks before, the day before, and the morning of the walk. Include a rain date or alternative indoor location in all the announcements.
  5. Prepare a short welcome, or ask an appropriate speaker to do so.
  6. Make copies of waiver forms for distribution.
  7. Check the weather forecast a week before and the morning before the event. Send out an announcement with any change in plans if weather conditions look bad.
  8. Arrive early for the event.
  9. Set up a table near the door with nametags, waiver forms, pens, bottles of water, and any promotional materials like T-shirts or fact sheets for participants.
  10. Give a short welcome, lead stretching exercises, and begin!

Helpful Hints

  • Find a location that has very little or no traffic, smooth and even surfaces, and alternative routes for people with disabilities as needed.
  • Check to see if your organization requires waiver forms to be signed by participants.  
  • Go over the route with participants before the walk begins.
  • Have one of the organizers take a charged cell phone along during the walk in case an emergency arises.  
  • Designate at least three organizers to walk at the beginning, middle, and end of the line to watch for problems and help participants stay on track.
  • Ask participants to fill out an evaluation form after the event.

Case Example

Below is an example of a wellness walk that took place at a work setting to give you an idea of how you might want to organize one in your community, including a faith-based setting, workplace, school, or civic group.

Name of event: Walk and Talk Along
Target audience: Male and female employees
Purpose: Two offices at the worksite planned this event together to provide an interactive way to encourage people to engage in physical activity.
Outcome: Thirty people participated in this event.
Description: During their one-hour lunch break, employees participated in a 1.5-mile walk in observance of National Women's Health and Fitness Day™. They first gathered in a conference room to hear a 5-minute welcome from the director and group stretch, and then they proceeded to walk as a group through the office park. Participants were able to walk at a pace comfortable for them and engage in lively conversation with friends and new acquaintances. After the walk, some employees decided to form an informal group committed to walking at lunch time once a week.
Publicity:
  • Sent out an email to key people throughout the organization to spread the word about the walk in their respective offices.
  • Sent out an email announcement two weeks in advance, the day before, and the morning of the walk.
  • Posted flyers on bulletin boards one week in advance.
Planning Time: Five weeks, though you may need more or less time depending on your setting.

This tip sheet is provided as a service only. Some details may vary, depending on your organization's resources and needs.

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