By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Parishioners from seven parishes will hit the pavement beginning this weekend in a challenge to promote healthy eating and walking. The competition began 10 years ago when Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf challenged Holy Family Parish in Davenport. Lourdes Parish Nurse Cathy Thennes said the idea came up when she was helping Holy Family Parish Nurse Mary Fritch get acquainted in her new role.
Four other Scott County area parishes joined the challenge in subsequent years: St. John Vianney in Bettendorf, Our Lady of Victory in Davenport, Our Lady of the River in LeClaire and St. Ann in Long Grove. This year, St. Mary Parish in Fairfield has joined the challenge.
Parish nurses in Fairfield said they’ve been talking to parishioners about the challenge for a few weeks and decided to join. “We felt that we should start slowly and grow over the next few years, since we have never done anything like this in the past. We’re keeping the ‘competition’ on a friendly basis,” said Parish Nurse Roseann Karbacka. “We are a little beyond the first year of our parish nurse program and thought there’s no time like the present to get started on the road to healthy living.”
She and fellow Parish Nurse Connie Ferrell have spent the last year laying the foundation for a successful program. They completed parish nurse training in March 2014. “We have seen people express interest in our work and it has been gratifying to be able to meet some of the needs of our church members. We are looking forward to challenging the other parishes,” Karbacka said.
Our Lady of Victory Parish Nurse Carol Burns said, “We want to promote an easy-to-use tool that Cathy Thennes developed a few years ago to help our parish be healthier. We are in the process of enrolling parishioners in this simple program. They can either use a pedometer or just measure the distance for recording their steps. That’s the number that we record.” The parish will award prizes to a participant whose name has been drawn randomly. “This program has been a good idea to promote health, develop a relationship with our sister parishes, and have some fun doing better with our clients.”
Bonnie Beyhl, trained health minister at Our Lady of Victory, said, “One of the goals for our Wellness Committee and Health ministry team is to promote wellness for all age groups in our parish. The walking program focuses on making every step count and on eating sensibly and hydrating. We participate also because it is a fun, friendly competition with other parishes. We have gotten to know the other parish nurses and health advocates over the last few years.”
The parish purchases Victory Vouchers (the school’s gift card program), awarding a $10 gift card each week and a grand prize at the conclusion. The parish doesn’t reward the person with the most steps to avoid discouraging others from participating. Parishioners are invited to tally their steps and the number of fruits and vegetables they consume. “This year we are going to try to map the diocese and see where we walk each week based on our total.”
St. Ann Parish Nurse LaNae Ramos said, “We par-ticipate in the walking program to get the people in our parish to start thinking healthier and to get up and move, no matter how much that may be. There are prizes at the end and random prizes drawn, too. “We keep track of the steps and the servings of fruit and vegetables that are eaten. This is on the honor system and the participants log their weekly results on a board that is outside the office. It is a fun event and a fun way to get people to be more active in their lives and to eat healthier.”