A statewide wellness initiative, Shape Up RI is a 12 week program that uses good old fashioned teamwork and competition to motivate people to improve their health through exercise. Participants wear a pedometer to track the amount of steps taken daily, and record the number of steps and minutes of activity on a team website. Seeing what other people are doing is motivation, and knowing that your team is counting on your honest participation is a source of inspiration. Teams can compete against each other for total amount of exercise minutes a week, whether it’s simply walking or taking one of the free Shape Up exercise classes at gyms and yoga studios statewide.
So, what does walking have to do with a political campaign? I asked myself that very question when Teresa approached me to join her team, “Tanzi 2010- For the Health of Our Community.” Her reply made perfect sense to me. “Politics is about movement building, and when I heard about Shape Up RI, it seemed a natural fit. I believe we can change the shape of the state, and the politics in the state, but it has to start with individuals. This program proves that if we care enough about ourselves to get involved, we can inspire and support others to do the same.” It is about movement, in every sense of the word, and it starts within each of us. Teresa is leading a group of 15 people to work together, inspire and motivate each other to not only be actively involved in our own health, but to build community.
Wellness is a political issue and that shocks me. The health care crisis, the obesity crisis, and the “food” crisis are standing in the way of many people achieving wellness. Don’t I have the right to wellness? Yet why can’t I afford health insurance or healthy, organic or whole foods? Why is it cheaper to spend my food dollars on empty calories than on fresh foods that genuinely provide nutrition? Why doesn’t our government truly care for my health and my baby’s health? When I am healthy, I can be the best mom, manager, employee, sister, and neighbor. When I am sick, I can barely take care of myself. Teresa Tanzi knows that for her community to be the best that it can be, it must be comprised of active, healthy, well cared for individuals. We have all heard the slogan “Think globally, act locally” and nationwide our health is less than stellar, but here in our community we can start the process towards progress. One step at a time.