This is a guest post from Jason Little, recreation manager for the City of Cottonwood. Jason has over thirteen years administrative experience in municipal government operations with an emphasis in parks and recreation. He has spent his entire career with the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department; an agency that has grown exponentially in the last eight years. The Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department considers recreation to be an essential service and strives to “make the good life better” for the citizens.
Looking Good Cottonwood; assisting those that have made weight loss their New Year’s resolution!
It was in early November of 2010 when I tuned into my usual Tuesday evening television routine: Biggest Loser and Parenthood. That night the light bulb in my head started flickering. Positioned comfortably on my couch with the remote control in one hand and Ben and Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch in the other, I sat transfixed listening to the sounds of the electronic scale on the Biggest Loser pan in and out in synchronization when I came to a realization: If I was so captivated with this show and the success of the contestants, others must be too. After a quick self-assessment, I put the Heath Bar Crunch aside and grabbed the laptop to take some notes on how I could implement this type of program on the local level.
The Idea & Buy-in
Friday morning I pulled my Fitness Center Supervisor into my office to brainstorm and we quickly concocted a rudimentary outline that was unlike others we had found while surfing the web. That morning, we came up with a program entitled, “Looking Good Cottonwood.” Due to time constraints with the New Year quickly approaching and working with a shoe string budget we developed a proposal and presented it to various community stakeholders. Luckily our timing was impeccable. The local hospital foundation was in the process of developing a public relations campaign and embraced the idea from the outset.
The 1st Annual Looking Good Cottonwood had over 400 individuals participate. The contestants lost a combined total upwards of 3,000 pounds and the winner losing one third of his body weight.
I attribute the success of the program to our primary sponsors and is the fact that the program was centered around accountability. With the funding and in-kind assistance we received from the hospital we developed a program that offered participants the resources to succeed. The hospital and local health care professionals agreed to volunteer their time and commit to hosting weekly seminars that cover everything from obesity and the adverse effects of weight on the body’s regulatory systems to dietary changes and eating habits. We contracted with fitness instructors to offer weekly classes to participants and running coaches to assist participants in developing a training regimen whereby they could participate in the city’s annual half marathon and 10k run. More importantly, we put a stipulation in the contest mandating participants that were interested in competing for prize money to weigh in on a weekly basis.
The citizenry in this local community support and embrace parks and recreation and the programming opportunities available to them. In closing, I would encourage any and all recreation agencies that are considering the implementation of a similar program to center the program around participant accountability. Resolutions are attainable when individuals are given the assistance, encouragement, and resources to succeed. A happy and healthy New Year’s to all.
2012 Final Weigh-in Results
Final weigh-in takes place this week in Cottonwood for the second annual competition! Join us on Facebook: Facebook.com/ActiveNetworkCommunities to see the results next week.