The Let’s Move Outside! Erie County Recreational Passport is a collaborative program of Erie Yesterday, Erie County Department of Health and VisitErie, and is Erie County’s pilot initiative as a Let’s Move! County. It’s an innovative program promoting healthy living and physical activity to people of all ages and demographics through the use of public art, local history and outdoor recreation.
The LMO! Passport uses ten Erie County walking/biking trails, including rural trails in Union City Area School District, Fairview Township, Washington Township, Asbury Woods Nature Center and Harborcreek Township and urban trails in the City of Erie, North East, Corry, Waterford and Girard. The LMO! passport has trail maps, trail information, local history content and other interesting things to see and do within each trail community, and will be available at locations throughout Erie County during the summer.
A trail marker placed near the middle of each trail will serve two purposes: to identify the trail as a passport trail and present necessary program information. Local artist Tom Ferraro designed and constructed ten public art pieces which will serve as the LMO! trail markers. Using methods he learned as a residency artist, Mr. Ferraro engaged youth from each trail community in the design process. Markers are scheduled for installation in May.
Why? In 2010, First Lady Obama launched Let’s Move!, a national campaign encouraging counties, cities and communities to use local resources such as museums, parks, trails and schools to help children and adults be more active. Erie County offers many opportunities for recreation and fitness with more than 140 parks and trails, dozens of annual walks, runs and outdoor clubs, and many cultural sites and attractions to explore. Despite these great opportunities for physical activity and outdoor fun, Erie County joins communities throughout the nation in the “battle of the bulge.” The 2009 Erie County Adult Profile found that 65% of all Erie County adults are overweight or obese. Recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Growth Screens 2007-2008 shows that the City of Erie has some of the lowest percentages of healthy body weight among school-aged children.
How will it work? STEP #1: Register on the program website www.letsmoveoutside.org. Registration allows you to document your progress and work your way toward qualifying for the grand prize drawing in November. STEP #2: Walk, run or bike the passport’s 10 trails and find the single artist-designed marker located along each trail. A unique 10-digit pass key is displayed on each trail marker. Once you find a marker, record the pass key in your passport booklet. (Remember to take a pen or pencil with you!) You can log in to the program website at any time and enter the pass key. After entering all 10 pass keys, you are automatically entered into the grand prize drawing. You could win a mountain bike or one of several other great prizes.
The program runs June 1 through October 20, 2012. Grand prize winners will be drawn and awarded by November 30.
The program is supported by Highmark and many other local businesses and community partners, such as ArtsErie, The Erie Community Foundation, Northwest Savings Bank, Erie Reader, Eriez Magnetics, Lilly Broadcasting, EnjoyErie.com.
“Participating in regular physical activity is one of the keys to developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Jim Martin, Highmark’s director of community affairs. “Through our support of this program, we hope to encourage individuals to take advantage of our local parks and trails by using them as a place where they can exercise while enjoying the beautiful scenery of our community.”
Behind the Scenes
The LMO! planning team is working with ten community teams which have agreed to identify locations for trail markers and assist with installation, provide content for both the printed passport and the LMO! website, assist with distributing passports and other print materials, and offer general support to the project. Each team consists of 3-4 members, many of whom are historical society/museum volunteers, borough managers, township supervisors, community leaders, and art teachers.
Organizational partners, such as the YMCA of Greater Erie, Erie County Public Library System, Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Stairways Behavioral Health/Center City Arts, Erie Center on Health and Aging, the French Creek Council (BSA), Girl Scouts of Western PA and Lake Erie Regional Conservancy are committed to engaging the broader community in the LMO! program and making Erie County a Let’s Move! community.