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Outlook health centre staff having 'step challenge'

Staff are 'stepping up' to the challenge at the Outlook and District Health Centre.
Staff have been 'stepping up' to the challenge at the Outlook and District Health Centre. Photo: Derek Ruttle/The Outlook

OUTLOOK - Staff at the Outlook & District Health Centre have been undertaking the challenge since the month of September started.

A month-long steps challenge has been taking place at the facility for the past few weeks and will wrap up as the final day of the month approaches this coming weekend.

Colleen Suderman, who's worked in the office of the health centre since March 2018, reached out to this reporter to share the story of this interesting endeavor, which is seeing staff walking, walking, and walking some more to rack up those steps in the hopes of winning some prizes.

The September Step Challenge has seen dozens of people sign up to take part, giving those Fitbit devices and other electronic step counters a daily workout of their own. Those taking part paid a fee to enter, and those with the highest number of steps at the end of the month take home a cash prize. As well, Suderman reached out to businesses in the community, and many of them were happy to donate prizes to help with the contest.

Suderman says the creation of the contest stemmed from everyday interaction among coworkers.

"Over the summer, a couple of us were comparing our steps every day by saying things like, 'Oh, I beat you' or 'You beat me!'," she said. "We were talking just at the end of August about how it'd be cool to do a step challenge, and so one of us said how about for the month of September, and then I thought why don't we invite everybody to join in and everybody will pay a small fee and there'll be prize money, which would give them incentive. So, I started advertising it at work and opening it up to the clinic, as well as the other office in town, and in total, we got 48 people to join and we have $1200 in prize money."

The end result of the contest will see ten cash prizes between $75 and $175 each handed out. On top of the sizable pot of money up for grabs, Colleen was also able to get a number of prizes from local businesses for draws that people will be entered into, with the intention of making sure that everybody taking part in the contest who doesn't win any money still gets something for their efforts.

"Then I thought maybe we should get a couple of gift cards into a draw for whoever doesn't win, and my boss said, 'Why don't you go and ask people for a donation?' So I started telling other staff about the draw and that made everybody excited, and then people started joining just so they could get a prize, so then more people were joining, so then I had to get more prizes! I went to a bunch of local businesses, and most of them were very open. I just said that we were having a contest at work and asked if they'd like to donate a prize, and they said yes. A lot of them didn't even know what it was about. Everybody was just so generous."

Colleen isn't sure if any other facilities are holding staff contests such as this one, but apparently, the challenge is going out.

"I don't know if anybody else is doing this, but our manager is telling other facilities in our area about it and challenging them to do something like this next year," she said. "We're kind of hoping this will be the first annual event and that we can keep doing it."

With 48 people signed up, comprised of staff from the health centre, the clinic, and the sub-office in downtown Outlook, Colleen says she created a poster of all the sponsors and posted it throughout the health centre for people to see. As it stands, the contest will wrap up this coming Saturday, September 30.

"That's what I'm planning," said Suderman. "Everybody is counting their steps either on a Fitbit or Apple watch or any other electronic device that they want to use, and it goes from September 1st to the 30th. I'm getting everybody to give me both their monthly total and also the one day of the month where they've done the best so that they have two ways of winning a prize."

There are just a few more days left in the friendly competition, but Colleen did share some of her own numbers that she's racked up, which points to the obvious reality that health care workers of all types seem to be on their feet virtually all the time. The contest has also managed to inspire some people to become more active.

"Over 400,000," said Suderman, blowing away this reporter with her own step numbers. "I started out really strong and then I got tired! I had one day that was 8000 and every other day has been over 10,000. I have about four or five days that were over 20,000. The nursing staff that are on their feet all day, they have an advantage because they're already putting on miles at work. That's why I thought this would be a good way to do it because people are walking anyhow. I know it's gotten some people who haven't been exercising out trying to get steps in just so they can be in the contest, so that's been really nice to see too."

The hope is that this event will become an annual thing in Outlook among health staff, as Colleen says that the positivity it's created has been great to see.

"Everybody seems pretty excited," she said. "We have such a big staff though, and about a third of them signed up for it. I wanted everybody to have something to remember this by, so I designed a fridge magnet and ordered them, so everybody will get their own. I'm hoping this becomes an annual thing. I decided to call it 'the first annual' so that we know that we're going to do it every year. It just builds a good spirit among everybody."

Stay tuned to an upcoming issue of The Outlook for an update on the contest.

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