We spoke with Homedale Mayor Gheen Christoffersen to learn how he tackled the Mayor’s School Walking Challenge and what it meant to him.
Mayor Christoffersen: I thought that it’d be a great way to try to get our community involved. I just thought if we could figure out how to get the kids involved from the school, we would get the parents involved, and we’d have a healthier place to live.
I walked all the streets of town, and so that made a difference. I’d walk here. I’d walk to my business. My business is about, I don’t know, maybe a mile out of town, and I’d just walk back and forth. And at first, everybody’s trying to give me a ride. Everybody would stop, “No, I’m just walking.” Going across the bridge, “You need a ride?” “No, I’m just walking.”
You don’t realize it until you actually do it. You’ve got a total different outlook for your community when you walk. What the roads are like, what the houses are like, what the citizens are like.
We decided that we would buy everybody in the city, all of our officers, our maintenance, our office – everybody – Fitbits. It’s an exercise that you can do with your entire family. People would come up and talk to me when they’d see me out walking. People from the community came up, and “Really, I think what you’re doing is great, yeah.” You’d see more people walking.
I want to see our community become closer-knit, and I think through programs like this we can become closer-knit. It’s a great community to live. Not just be from, but be a part of.