Turnstone has recruited a group of 25 Fort Wayne area residents who are blind, visually impaired or have other mobility impairments and have partnered with the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to implement the fifth iteration of the USABA/Anthem National Fitness Challenge. Foundation funding will allow the group to participate in physical activity and sports programming from March to November. Some of the members of the group meet weekly to practice goalball, a team sport for athletes who are blind or visually impaired. Individuals are also training for the Fort4Fitness fall races either the 4mile, 10K, half marathon or marathon that will take place September 30th.
The twenty-five participants will be tracking their progress with Fitbit wearables throughout the 9-month program. Using technology on their phones, participants will be able to check-in throughout the day to find out how close they are to hitting their goals – and how other participants are advancing toward their goals.
“Making sure I complete at least 10,000 steps is a great motivator and encourages me to get up and move,” said National Fitness Challenge participant Nettie Flores.
“There have been days I couldn’t get into Turnstone to workout but I still made sure I got my 10,000 steps. Even if I just get up and walk around my apartment to get them, I do because I don’t want to miss out. Having the fitbit has been great as well because I can see my progress all the time.” Nettie usually comes to Turnstone 2-4 days a week to workout.
Research has consistently shown that individuals who particpate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their ablities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has served as a sponsor of USABA’s National Fitness Challenge since its inception five years ago. This year, 13 agencies from across the United States, including Turnstone, are joining Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and USABA to provide more than 330blind and visually impaired teenagers and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels, as well as live healthier and more active lives.