Graham Walks movement puts feet on the street with walking challenge

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GRAHAM, N.C. — Obesity is the highest it’s been in North Carolina history. The state currently sits in the top half of obesity rates in the country.

One local city is getting creative helping people battle the bulge and making it tougher for you not to exercise.

Melody Wiggins has built a life around health and wellness.

“Our obesity rates in our youth and adults is staggering,” said Wiggins, of Shamrock Nutrition.

32% of adults in the state are obese, a number that is steadily increasing.

Melody, the former director of Parks and Recreation, helped get the Graham Walks movement started. The initiative encourages people to walk 8,000 steps a day. In 2006, the city, along with the Alamance County Health Department, received a grant to promote healthy living.

“We were just trying to do healthy communities. Parks and Rec started it to get people healthy and to get people out and to get active,” Wiggins recalled.

Each fall there is a five-week walking challenge. One option to complete that challenge is to walk the square. Medallions embedded in the sidewalk guide you on the path to wellness.

“Before we really struck these movements of doing active programs, people didn’t walk enough,” Wiggins said.

Now around 150 people sign up. It’s a win-win for walkers and businesses.

“It’s a program to get folks out moving, being active, but it’s also a great way to get out and socialize and meet new folks,” said Brandy McCandless, marketing supervisor for Graham Recreation and Parks.

“We see a core group that comes back every time that continues to ask us when we’re going to start, when’s the next one,” Wiggins said.

There are weekly meet-ups and incentives to keep walkers motivated to finish the challenge.

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