Cape Cod National Seashore Wraps Up a Summer of Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Race participants pose for a picture
Cape Cod National Seashore renewed and expanded its dedication to Healthy Parks, Healthy People through a number of continuing and new initiatives to help promote a healthy lifestyle for visitors, the community, and park staff.

NPS photo

The Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP) tent, staffed by Cape Cod Healthcare professionals at the Salt Pond Visitor Center, returned to Cape Cod National Seashore for a third year to provide health advice, blood pressure readings, as well as height, weight, and body mass index measurements, and to provide encouragement to visitors to increase movement through enjoyment of the outdoors. The HPHP Walking Program guide returned this year with motivation and information on how to start up a healthy walking, hiking, or running routine. The guide is known for the wealth of information it contains, and as the definitive trail guide for the park, and has become one of the “must have” items for trail users.

This was also the inaugural year of the Healthy Parks, Healthy People 5K (five kilometer) Run/Walk for Heart Health. Held on September 23, this event culminated the “Couch-to-5K” training program, a nine-week walking program designed to improve fitness at all levels, from sedentary to participatory. With 160 participants, many of whom had not previously participated in a 5K, the event was a great success. The cool, misty weather was perfect for an outdoor run through the seashore on a combination of roads and trails. Cape Cod National Seashore Assistant to the Superintendent Courtney Butler coordinated with Cape Cod Healthcare and other partners to ensure the first year was a success and to set the stage for an annual tradition.

“We could not have asked for a better turnout for our first annual 5K!," said Butler. "Runners and walkers alike were enthusiastic about an event that promotes a healthy lifestyle and supporting the national seashore. Proceeds from the race are benefiting the Friends of Cape Cod National Seashore,and the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Over $4,000 was raised. We are greatly looking forward to working with our partners, Cape Cod Healthcare and KoKo Fit Club of Cape Cod, to put on an even better event next fall, and we hope to host even more participants.”

The Workplace and Employee (WEE) Enrichment Committee rolled out a new employee and volunteer summer fitness challenge. Divisions competed to see who could walk, run, and in some cases dance their way into the history books, and take home the coveted traveling trophy. Staff and volunteers were presented with awards for achieving a variety of milestones, such as MVPs Ann-Brooke Murray, a park ranger/interpreter, Adam Thime from the maintenance division and Meghan Farrell in the division of visitor and resource protection, who each walked more than 800,000 steps. Kekoa Rosehill stole the Best Week Ever Award from the clutches of Adam Thime by logging 150,542 steps in week 8. The hard-working Maintenance Division took home the trophy for highest weekly average, edging out the Visitor and Resource Protection Division by a hair.

In total, 42 seashore staff and volunteers logged 14,494,655 steps for a combined 7,247 miles. That is more than the round-trip distance from Cape Cod National Seashore to Point Reyes National Seashore in California. WEE Committee Chair Dani Cessna, who helped organize the challenge, said, “During the busy summer season, it’s easy for us to only focus on our jobs and forget about our wellness. This challenge gave staff and volunteers a fun reason to pay attention to their fitness, and promoted camaraderie and playful competition throughout the park.”