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Community feature: the Monday Mile at Syracuse University

The Syracuse University Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion has collaborated with community partners to launch over 30 Monday Mile routes.
So Move It Monday really is one of the Monday campaigns, and it’s based on the notion that on Monday, you can have a fresh start, you can get out engage in some physical activity, and hopefully that will carry you through the rest of the week. I think that a lot of people try to fit exercise into their routine. They know they should do it, but it’s kind of hard to keep it up. My name is Tom Dennison, I’m a professor of public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
The two primary barriers that people face in engaging in physical activity involve both being motivated to engage in physical activity– breaking out of your usual pattern of activity and getting out and doing something physically active, and then having some place to engage in physical activity. My name is Leah Moser, and I am the program director for the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University. The Monday Mile is an initiative of Move It Monday that really encourages walking. It encourages people to get out and walk a mile for their health starting on Monday.
We work very closely with the Monday campaign organization, and one of the things that we find most beneficial that they’re able to produce and support us in are the social media tips and graphics to help promote the Monday campaigns. Move It Monday in Syracuse has really taken off as a popular venue and program for people to engage in regular physical activity. We have quite a few Monday Miles peppered around the county– in county parks as well as in neighborhoods, and they become a focal point for community groups to get together on Monday to engage in some community-building activity that also involves walking a mile and getting some physical activity.
Key partners for Move It Monday and the Monday Mile in Syracuse are our parks departments. We’ve worked very closely with city parks and with our county parks departments. Our hospitals are also one of our close partners. We have Monday Mile on each of our hospitals’ campuses. We’ve also worked with other folks in the community who have learned about us through some of our other initiatives that we have on campus and in the community, and they are excited about Move It Monday and the Monday Mile and want to bring it to the populations that they serve.
We define success for the Move It Monday program both in terms of the actual number of people who get out and use the Monday Mile on a given day, but also the degree to which it builds community. Hi, I’m Payton Sefick, I’m the project coordinator for the Fitness Inclusion Network. My main involvement with the Monday Mile in Syracuse is making sure that it’s successful from wheelchair users, and in places that are safe, and where people with disabilities are and they can easily access. So we have a tool that we use through SUNY Cortland’s Recreation Resource Center called Inclusion U, and it’s a tool that’s designed to measure accessibility of public spaces and spaces for recreation.
There’s a special checklist within that tool that assesses trails, so we use that assessment in all of our Monday Mile routes. Our goals align with the Lerner Center through community, I’d say. Just working together and talking with people about accessing the space around them. When we’ve worked with Madison County, the Rural Health Council has been our primary partner in that work. I’m Bonnie Slocum. I’m the executive director of the Madison County Rural Health Council. We first learned about the Monday Mile through a population health improvement program meeting. And Leah Moser from the Lerner Center came and told us about the Monday Mile, and I called her up immediately and we started to work on the Monday Mile.
They were really interested, and they were really excited and wanted to see this happen across the entire county. So when we initially met with them, they had the idea that they wanted to do about 30 Monday Mile routes. And so we sat down and talked through with them what they felt they had the capacity to take on as well as what we had the capacity to offer. The Lerner Center has been fantastic. They have been a partner in helping us decide some of the places where these miles could be.
They’ve walked the miles with us, they have designated the areas where the signs need to be, they’ve done the digital signs, they’ve provided PowerPoints for us, and they have also participated in any of the events that we might have coming up that they could be part of. We consider the Monday Mile a great success if it actually builds groups of people who relate to each other to actually go out and do something together as a community. I think we’re all committed to the idea of Syracuse being a big community that everyone has equal opportunity to access. There are a lot of Monday Mile routes– it’s growing. We have about 30 routes right now.
So we are spread out across the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. My favorite Monday Mile route is probably that Kirk Park route that goes through the– close to up around Onondaga and the creek walk there. It’s a nice area, there’s cool, green space. You know, you have some water with the creek there, so I think that would probably be my favorite.

The Monday Mile, an initiative of Move It Monday, is a health campaign that encourages people to walk one mile starting on Monday. Like other Monday campaigns, the Monday Mile uses Monday as a “fresh start” for physical activity, and those running the program hope that the routine continues for the rest of the week.

Tom Dennison, Former Faculty Director of the Syracuse Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, identifies two primary barriers that his community members face in deciding to engage in physical activity:

  1. Motivation to break out of a routine and exercise; and

  2. Having a safe and accessible place to engage in physical activity.

The Syracuse University Lerner Center defines success of the campaign by the number of people who use the Monday Mile on a given day, in addition to the degree to which it builds community.

Peyton Sefick, Director of Community Outreach at the Fitness Inclusion Network, collaborates with the Syracuse Lerner Center to help ensure that Monday Mile trails are accessible for wheelchair users and are in safe, accessible places for people with different abilities. The initiative currently uses Inclusion U’s checklist for determining accessibility of trails, which allows them to identify accessible locations.

The Syracuse Lerner Center works closely with people in the community who have heard about the Monday Mile initiative and want to bring it to their own populations – particularly neighborhoods, hospitals, and county parks departments. Thanks to help from partners such as the Madison County Rural Health Council, there are currently about 30 Monday Mile routes across the city. The Monday Mile has become a focal point for community groups to both build community and stay active.


As you watch, consider the following and respond below:

  • How do you plan to define success in your program?

  • How can you make your program accessible to people with different abilities?

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The Monday Campaigns: Lessons in Public Health Promotion

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