‘It’s Time’ for Healthy Change in Texas

by Nick Bailey on January 4, 2016 in Lifestyle, Wellness,
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Now that the new year has rolled in, many Texans are motivated to make a change within themselves and their communities, and It’s Time Texas is bringing an opportunity to promote healthy living to communities across the great state.

Texans far and wide are participating in the challenge this year. Courtesy photo
Texans far and wide are participating in the challenge this year. Courtesy photo

Thanks to It’s Time Texas, an Austin-based non-profit social cause organization, communities all over Texas can demonstrate their commitments to healthy living by participating in the Fourth Annual It’s Time Texas Community Challenge, presented by H-E-B. The Community Challenge is the only statewide competition of its kind and will run from the beginning of January, to March 31.

The Community Challenge was developed in 2012 to unite and mobilize community members, schools, businesses, organizations and mayors to get excited about healthy living and to transform the community’s health.  In its three previous iterations, the Community Challenge has seen more than 2.5 million healthy actions logged and has engaged more than 550 Texas communities of all sizes.

We Texans are a proud people and most of us take great pride in the communities in which we live,” John Waterman, Director of Digital and Social Media for It’s Time Texas said. “We created the Community Challenge to harness that competitive energy and to motivate Texans to help their communities foster and encourage healthy behaviors. Though we’ll ultimately crown a champion, our mission with the Challenge, like with everything we do, is to recognize and celebrate the efforts of Texans committed to making it easier to live healthier in Texas. Though our state, like many others throughout the country, is battling a complex and very serious health crisis, there are millions of Texans who are committed to turning the tide. The Community Challenge rewards the efforts of the motivated, regardless of where they’re at on their health journey, and provides a platform for communities to unite in celebration of healthy living.”

For the Challenge, communities are grouped into categories according to population size. Using the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge website, Texans earn points for their communities by participating in activities such as posting “healthy selfies,” organizing workplace walks, taking healthy pledges, and tracking physical activity. At the end of the Community Challenge, the community with the most points from each of the following size categories will receive a $1,200 grant, a trophy, and a banner.

  • Extra small: 1-5,000 population
  • Small: 5,001-40,000 population
  • Mid-size: 40,001-100,000 population
  • Large: 100,001-300,000 population
  • Metro: 300,001+ population

Additionally, communities that meet or exceed a certain number of points (listed on the Challenge website) and submit the following actions will be officially recognized during the Challenge awards ceremony:

  • 1 Individual Action
  • 5 School Actions
  • Mayor Pledge Submitted
  • 5 Business/Organization Actions
  • 1 Faith-Based Action
Leading an active lifestyle is possible for Texans of all shapes, sizes and age. Courtesy photo
Leading an active lifestyle is possible for Texans of all shapes, sizes and age. Courtesy photo

“Unfortunately, unhealthy habits in our country have given rise to chronic diseases that have reached epidemic proportions,” says Dr. Baker Harrell, founder and director of It’s Time Texas. “As a result, healthcare systems are overburdened, quality of life has deteriorated, and the long-term costs are hurting families and communities.”

In larger cities like Austin, the Challenge has done well to boost community spirit by giving communities a rallying point to build around and to showcase positive habits of healthy lifestyles.

“The Community Challenge helps us spotlight and recognize the many schools, organizations, and motivated individuals working hard to make Austin one of the healthiest communities in the state!” says Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin. “It also provides a unique and fun way for other cities to try to be like Austin, and in this I wish them the best of luck.”

In other communities across Texas, the results are also positive, and help to create a lasting impact for those who participate.

We often hear that the Community Challenge helped to unite what were previously disparate community health efforts and initiatives,” Waterman said. “ People and organizations, who were previously working independently, have been able to create meaningful friendships and relationships that last long after the Challenge ends.”

With new year’s resolutions just beginning, the It’s Time Texas Community Challenge could be just what the state needs to raise the bar.