Healthiest State Walk 2016 School Toolkit

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Healthiest State Walk 2016

School Toolkit

Presented by Delta Dental of Iowa

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In partnership with

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Thanks for organizing a Healthiest State Walk!

The Healthiest State Initiative is excited to continue our partnership with Live Healthy Iowa for this annual walk in hopes of reaching out to as many Iowans as possible and building healthy lifestyles across the state.
The Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental of Iowa, is a great step in promoting health and wellness at your school and also aligns with National Walk to School Day.
We know coordinating a Healthiest State Walk is no small task, so we want to make it as easy as possible for you to communicate the walk to administration, teachers, students, and parents. This kit includes communications templates for you to modify to your needs. The bolded statements can be adjusted to customize these communications for your school’s walk.
Included in the kit are:

  • Steps to organizing a successful walk

  • Tips for a successful walk

  • A letter to parents

  • Article for your school’s newsletter about the Healthiest State Walk

  • Tips for a day-before reminder email

  • Details of the K-8 Challenge and High School Mascot Challenge

  • Tips for creating involvement

  • Social media messages

  • Talking points around walking

Resources such as PDFs for posters and other promotional/organizational materials are also provided within the resources page.

Steps to Organizing a Successful Walk:

  1. Designate a walk coordinator. This can be a teacher, principal, staff member, PTO/PTA member, classroom parent or community volunteer

  2. Plan logistics for your 30 minute walk, including date and time of the walk (Oct.3-Oct. 7) and choose a safe and easily accessible route for teachers, students and staff. A few things to consider would be road closures, railroad tracks, walkability of path. There are a few questions you should answer, as well. Is this a community walk or school only? Are parents invited? Will it be a school wide walk or by classroom?

  3. Register your walk at

  4. Start promoting the walk, creating excitement and inviting participants!

Tips for a Successful Walk

Adapted from the National Center for Safe Routes to School
Tip 1: Start Small

You can always build on your successes with more components next year. Or, if the school is enthusiastic and partners are ready to help, aim high and follow up the flier with other promotional materials and planned activities

Tip 2: Plan Early (if you can)

When time is on your side, plan as early as you can.

Tip 3: Get the Principal On Board

Get the principal’s approval before moving forward on tasks. Approach the principal with an outline of your ideas for the event as early as possible. While at minimum the principal’s approval is needed, he or she can also be what makes the event really shine.

Tip 4: Recruit Help

There’s no need to go it alone. Don’t try to plan and carry out the event all by yourself. Recruit other adults and students to help. Find partners to help you plan the event or to donate items that could make your event even more of a success. For instance, a local grocery store may be willing to donate bagels, oranges or some other refreshment for participants.

Tip 5: Include All Students

Include everyone at the school. Explore ways to participate and learn about how to provide access for all students.

Tip 6: Provide Incentives (if you can)

Give out incentive items or tokens if you can. Print stickers and certificates, or order prizes such as pencils, badges or reflective gear.

Tip 7: Communicate with Parents

Communicate with parents early and often about the event. Distribute fliers 2 weeks before the event, and send out reminders the week and day before the event. Include your contact information in the promotional materials in case parents have questions or concerns. Intercom announcements are another good way to get the word out and reinforce safety tips.

Tip 8: Get the Word Out

Get the word out beyond the school. Promote the event to the community, elected officials and students. Think strategically. For example, if speeding is a problem, you may want to involve local law enforcement. If sidewalks are missing or in bad repair, you may want to invite your local public works department.

Letter to Parents

May be sent by principal, nurse, PE teacher, guidance counselor, etc.
Get excited, [SCHOOL NAME]!
For more than 5 years, hundreds of thousands of Iowans have taken part in the annual Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental of Iowa. We’ve taken great steps together to promote our state’s well being, but there is much more work to be done.
On October 5, thousands will again support Iowa’s efforts to become a healthier state with the goal of having at least one organized walk in all 99 counties. I’m pleased to announce that this statewide effort will include [SCHOOL]. The date of the walk also aligns with National Walk to School Day, which we are excited to support.
In the past, the annual walk has been a 1k, or .62 miles. This year, Iowans will #StepItUp to 30 minutes of walking. This is in accordance with the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Thirty minutes of walking is proven to boost social and emotional health in addition to physical health.
The Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental, represents more than 30 minutes of walking; it shows our dedication to building healthy habits in our students and teaching them the importance of physical activity.
Because of our commitment to long-term change, [SCHOOL] is also partaking in the #WhyIWalk pledge. We encourage students to write down why they will incorporate walking into their lives. We encourage you to share their pledges via social media!
Please remind your child to wear their best walking shoes on [DATE]. OPTIONAL: We encourage parents to join us for the walk starting at [TIME].
Visit to learn more about the Healthiest State Initiative, and stay tuned to [the school newsletter] for more information on the walk details. Together we can do something great for our school and for Iowans across the state.



Article about the Healthiest State Walk

[SCHOOL] is taking place in the Healthiest State Walk!
On [DATE] the students and staff of [SCHOOL] will join thousands of other Iowans to support the Healthiest State Initiative’s annual statewide walk! The Healthiest State Initiative’s goal is to bring communities together by having an organized Healthiest State Walk in all of Iowa’s 99 counties for the second year in a row.
This year, people will come together and walk for 30 minutes – Stepping it up from the previous years’ 1k. Thirty minutes of physical activity each day improves physical, social, and emotional health. [SCHOOL] is excited to partake in the Healthiest State Walk as it represents a commitment to our students’ well-being. We look forward to not only walking together on [DATE], but also educating students and encouraging healthy lifestyles.
We can’t wait to “Step It Up” at [LOCATION, TIME]. The walk will be thirty minutes long and students are encouraged to wear their best walking shoes. OPTIONAL: We invite parents to join us for the walk and suggest that they arrive at [TIME].
Together, let’s continue stepping toward a better and healthier Iowa.

Day Before Walk – Reminder email announcement

Subject: The Healthiest State Walk is here!
Just a reminder that students will “Step It Up” tomorrow by partaking in the Healthiest State Walk! Make sure they wear a good pair of walking shoes
[SCHOOL] will join thousands of people participating in 30 minute walks across the state today will help us continue toward our goal of making Iowa a healthier state – physically, socially and emotionally!
[The walk will begin at [TIME] and will end approximately 30 minutes later. We will walk around [LOCATION]. We encourage you to join us!
We can’t wait to ‘Step It Up” and build healthy lifestyles!

School Contests

High School – Mascot Challenge

A contest targeted to high schools will involve the first 32 high school walks registered at the Healthiest State website. They will automatically be entered in the Healthiest State Walk Mascot Challenge. Each week from September 7 through October 5, Iowans will be able to vote on their favorite mascot in a bracket format until a final mascot winner is crowned. The winning mascots’ schools will earn a $1,000 prize and bragging rights as the most popular mascot. Mascots will be encouraged to participate in the Walk and post photos/video.

K-8 Schools – Social Media Challenge

K-8 schools will be encouraged to register a walk by September 18, post their plans to walk on the school’s Facebook page, and engage their students through the “Why I Walk” pledges. Healthiest State will also publish a list of registered schools to increase accountability. If they post photos to social media using the #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk hashtags, they will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win $1,000 for their school.

Schools are encouraged to promote these contests internally and through social media outlets. The Healthiest State Initiative may share stories of school involvement.

Create More Involvement

Help your students and staff feel like they’re personally invested in building a healthier state! To create more involvement and competition in the Healthiest State Walk at your school, we’ve assembled a few tips.
Set a school-wide goal

Set a goal of walking “X” number of minutes as a school and share it with your students and staff. You can even organize a small celebration when you make your goal or giveaway to the classroom with the most collective minutes.

Mark it on your calendars

Don’t forget to send your staff a reminder on their work calendars so the time and date is marked off for this special event. Teachers should build the walk into their classrooms’ schedules.

Print posters

Visit the resources section of to print out free, customizable posters to display around your building.

Make it a school photo op

Get more involvement by using the Healthiest State Walk as the opportunity for a school picture. Have classes gather before or after the walk to have a photo taken, and be sure to prominently display the picture when the walk is over and share it via social media using the hashtags #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

Provide a post-walk snack or lunch

Make it a school event that fosters relationships and a healthy environment: Serve a healthy snack or lunch after the walk.

Order Healthiest State Walk t-shirts

Order Healthiest State Walk t-shirts that are customizable with your school’s logo or walk name. Visit for more info. Prices vary with quantities.

Individual pledge forms

Encourage students to fill out forms stating why they walk (and why they want a healthier lifestyle). The #WhyIWalk pledges can be posted around the classrooms and hallways and shared via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk. These pledges make the walk more personal and are a fun way to hold students accountable to incorporating activity into their days. It also enters them into a statewide social media contest.

Individual social media contest

Schools are encouraged to promote the statewide individual contest. Individual walkers can earn a $25 gift card by tagging @HealthiestIowa in a photo/video on the day of the walk with the walk hashtags #StepItUpIowa & #WhyIWalk on Facebook or Instagram. Winners will be randomly selected and will have a set time frame to claim their gift card.

Social Media
Use social media to energize your walking group and connect with the

Healthiest State Initiative.

  • First, like us on Facebook @HealthiestIowa and follow us on Twitter @HealthiestIowa and Instagram @iowahealthieststate.

  • Tag us and use hashtags #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk

  • Share some of the fun posts from our Facebook and Twitter site with your followers.

  • Use the following as examples of social media posts on your own accounts.


  • Join us Oct 5 for the annual @HealthiestIowa Walk - 30 min of daily physical activity boosts health and wellness #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

  • We are joining the @HealthiestIowa Walk bc our students’ physical, social, and emotional health are top priorities #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

  • This year we will #StepItUpIowa and walk 30 min for the @HealthiestIowa Walk to boost the health of our students and the state #WhyIWalk

Make sure to share your photos, stories, and pledges about #WhyIWalk while tagging @HealthiestIowa.


  • We are excited to participate in the Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental of Iowa, this year in an effort to make Iowa healthier and to promote healthy lifestyles among our students.

The walk is 30 min – aligning with the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation of 30 min of physical exercise each day. It also falls on National Walk to School Day #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk #JoinUs

  • Join us for the Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental of Iowa, on October 5! 30 minutes of physical activity is proven to improve not only physical health but also social and emotional health #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk #JoinUs

(Attach image of walk poster)

  • We have registered for the Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental of Iowa, as an effort to make healthy lifestyles a priority! Our walk will take place at [TIME, LOCATION]. Students and staff are excited to incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into their days.

Share photos and stories about students/walk members’ pledges for “why they walk.” Make sure to tag the Healthiest State Initiative and use #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk.

Day of Walk

  • Reminder: Join us today for the @HealthiestIowa Walk at [TIME] at [LOCATION] for a 30 min walk! #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

  • We are proud to support @HealthiestIowa Walk today and everyday to make Iowa healthier #WhyIWalk #StepItUpIowa

Post photos of the group or individuals throughout the walk while tagging @HealthiestIowa and using #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk.


  • Today is the day! Join students and staff at [TIME, LOCATION] for the Healthiest State Walk. We will walk for 30 minutes in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and incorporate physical activity into our day #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

Post photos of the group or individuals throughout the walk while tagging the Healthiest State Initiative and using #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk.


Post photos of the group or individuals throughout the walk while tagging @HealthiestIowa and using #StepItUpIowa and #WhyIWalk.


  • We had a great time joining @HealthiestIowa Walk and fitting 30 minutes of activity into our day #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

  • The @HealthiestIowa Walk was a great step towards a healthier Iowa and we will continue to walk and be active #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk


  • The Healthiest State Walk, presented by Delta Dental, was a great first step towards healthier lifestyles and we hope to use the momentum to continue daily physical activity. The walk was only a starting point! #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

  • We had a great experience participating in the Healthiest State Walk, presented by @DeltaDentalIA, this past week. We realize that the walk represented more than just 30 minutes of activity but also a commitment to improving the overall health of our students and the state of Iowa! Visit for resources on continuing to pursue a healthy lifestyle! #StepItUpIowa #WhyIWalk

Upload a photo album of groups and individuals, including their #WhyIWalk pledges, from the walk and tag the Healthiest State Initiative and participants.

Photos for Social Media

Please feel free to use stock photos from the resources page in social media to create engagement. Other ideas for visuals include a photo of the walk route, people with their #WhyIWalk pledges, and the customizable poster with walk details.

Step It Up Iowa: Talking Points

  • This year’s annual Healthiest State Walk is encouraging Iowans to “Step It Up” by walking 30 minutes on Wednesday, October 5th.

  • Our goal is to have an organized walk registered in all 99 counties of Iowa. Businesses, schools and communities are all encouraged to register a walk at

  • Being physically active is one of the most important steps that people of all ages and abilities can take to improve their health. 

  • Increasing people’s physical activity level will significantly reduce their risk of chronic disease and premature death and support positive mental health and healthy aging.

  • To obtain health benefits, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week and that children and adolescents be active for at least 60 minutes every day. 

  • Despite the health benefits, only one-half of U.S. adults reported levels of physical activity consistent with the guideline for aerobic physical activity in 2013.

  • Delta Dental strongly encourages walking as an excellent contributor to your health, while also reminding you that overall health starts with maintaining dental and vision health as well.

  • Physical Benefits of Walking

    • Decrease premature death

    • Reduce development and improve diabetes

    • Reduce risk of dementia

    • Treatment of hypertension

    • Prevent obesity or mitigate risk of obesity

  • Social benefits of walking

    • Provide supportive relationships for behavior change

    • Provide friendship and support through buddy systems, walking groups

    • Create social cohesion

  • Emotional benefits of walking

    • Reduce symptoms of anxiety

    • Increased self-reported energy levels

    • Improve sleep quality

    • Increased psychological well-being

    • Improved cognitive functioning

  • Why focus on walking?

    • People can get substantial health benefits through brisk walking or by adding brisk walking to other physical activities.

    • Walking is an excellent way for most Americans to increase their physical activity.

    • Easy way to start and maintain an active lifestyle

      • Inexpensive

      • Can be done year round

      • Most people are able to walk or move with assistive devices

    • Common form of physical activity

      • Inclusive of all demographics – young, middle-aged and elderly

      • Adults who walk are three times more likely to meet the aerobic guideline

    • Multipurpose

      • People can walk to get some place, have fun, socialize, walk the dog, or exercise

      • 50% of US adults walk during their leisure time and 29% walk for transportation

    • Benefits communities

      • Improved walkability can:

        • Make communities safer

        • Support social cohesion

        • Reduce air pollution

        • Benefits local economies

#StepItUp #WhyIWalk

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