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AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — During March and April, more than 1,300 Alabamians got moving in more ways than ever before. This is all thanks to Move Alabama, a community-driven initiative designed to encourage residents to engage in physical activity with their friends and family.
Move Alabama is a joint initiative between two Alabama Cooperative Extension System programs—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). This year was the first statewide implementation of the initiative, following its pilot launch in six Alabama counties in 2022.
“The success of the Move Alabama pilot year was encouraging as we were able to create new engagement opportunities, tweaking the program for the statewide launch,” said Erin Reznicek, an Alabama Extension family and consumer sciences specialist. “In the first two years, we have been beyond pleased with the support individuals and their communities have given this program.”
Move Alabama Works
Move Alabama aims to address the low rate of physical activity across Alabama. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30% of the state is classified as physically inactive, meaning that adults engage in minimal to no physical activity or exercise beyond their regular jobs.
During the two-month program, 38 Alabama counties participated with 98 Alabama cities represented. The goal of Move Alabama is to encourage Alabamians to connect through physical activity. More than 1,300 members on the Move Alabama Facebook group resulted in over 700 posts with photos and comments. Moreover, the Facebook group has had more than 30,000 views throughout the two months.
“Creating a public Facebook group really enhanced the impact of Move Alabama and led to a lot of new connections,” said Theresa Mince, Alabama Extension EFNEP coordinator. “Participation grew consistently throughout the challenge time frame, and we got to see strangers become friends and encouragers. We had some Move Alabama all-stars that really helped others get and stay involved.”
SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educators identified partners to boost Move Alabama’s impact and visibility in the community. Working closely with partners, educators organized 52 pop-up challenges, engaging over 2,100 individuals across the state. These pop-up challenges involved visiting various community sites where participants captured photos and shared them on the Move Alabama Facebook group.
Educators connected with 148 community partners throughout the program, resulting in more than $2,800 of in-kind donations for different challenges. Such donations included gym memberships, gift cards, T-shirts and exercise equipment for completing challenges.
“The beauty of Move Alabama is the way the community really took ownership of the program,” Mince said. “They encouraged each other through the Facebook group, they created walking clubs in their downtowns and they made Move Alabama something that worked for them. We loved seeing how creative our neighbors are.”
Participants were tasked with completing 25 physical activity challenges. These challenges were designed to inspire them to incorporate movement into their daily routines. These challenges encompassed a range of simple activities that people could do individually or with family and friends. Some challenges specifically encouraged participants to explore local parks, trails and downtown shopping areas. This helped promote the utilization of the free, community-based physical activities available in their neighborhoods.
Many Move Alabama participants said they enjoyed the program and plan to continue being active once the challenge was over. A participant survey revealed the following data:
- 94% completed challenges with family or friends
- 88% developed a plan to continue being physically active after Move Alabama
- 75% said it was easy or very easy for them to complete challenges
- 72% are confident or completely confident that they can be more physically active in their everyday lives after completing Move Alabama
- 61% learned about a new way to be physically active in their community.
“The participant survey responses were encouraging and further established the need for this type of community driven program,” Reznicek said. “Extension SNAP-Ed and EFNEP educators all over the state are the friendly support our communities received to be able to take ownership of individual physical activity and to drum up support for enhancements to physical activity spaces in our communities. We are so impressed with some of the outcomes.”
Mince said the program is something that Alabama residents can look forward to every year.
“Keep following along in the Facebook group and with your local Alabama Extension office to find out what we have in store for next year,” Mince said.
For more information, visit Move Alabama and AU EFNEP on Facebook. Also, for tips on physical activity or nutrition, visit Live Well Alabama at www.LiveWellAlabama.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.