Mental health community views walking challenge as step toward improved overall health

By Ron Tankel, Certified Therapeutic Recreational Therapist for Truman Medical Centers, Behavioral Health, New Frontier’s program

The Ten Million Step challenge project in 2009 engaged all seven Kansas City metro community mental health centers (CMHC) in a challenge to walk 10 million steps in three months. Each CMHC selected 25 mental health consumers, who, along with their identified coach, tracked either by pedometer or by entering duration, the number of steps walked in a three-month period that spanned Aug. 17 to Nov. 15, 2009.

Each week, the teams recorded their steps. The teams competing in the challenge finished with a total of more than 60 million steps of approximately 30,000 miles.

A city-wide celebration was held Nov. 20, 2009, for all participating agencies, their consumers and staff.

“This progam provided these clients with the opportunity to work as a team for a common goal,” said Ron Tankel, TMC Behavioral Health Therapeutic Recreational Therapist and team coach. “I was amazed at the team-building this group did throughout the challenge, from walking together to helping keep each other motivated. They all learned this is only a beginning to a healthier life, not an end.”

“This was an amazing challenge for all the CMHC teams that competed in this great challenge,” said Marsha Morgan, TMC Behavioral Health Chief Operating Officer. “Many of the members of our team have other health problems, and this journey toward a healthier life through exercise and diet has improved not only their mental outlook, but their physical health as well.”

Here are comments from several consumers that participated in the first walking challenge:

  • “I lost 40 pounds during the walking challenge, and this started me on the road to wellness, especially walking more, eating healthier and monitoring my weight.”
  • “The walking challenge increased my stamina, changed my diet and my waist size went from 38 to 34 and I have maintained this.”
  • “This gave me a routine and helped me structure my time, also to be part of a team and receive motivation and support from the group. It helped me mentally and physically.”

Fast-forward to present day, and once again we are taking on another walking challenge, but with bigger goals and more miles. The metro council’s 50 million “walk the talk, steps for recovery” challenge project will again engage 25 consumers from all seven Kansas City metro CMHCs in a challenge to walk 50 million steps in three months.

The challenge will begin with a kickoff event at 10 a.m., Aug. 1, at Loose Park, and conclude Nov. 1, with a celebration Friday, Nov. 21.

Truman Medical Center Behavioral Health is dedicating this year’s walking challenge to our former 74-year-old client who has passed on. He participated in the first walking challenge and walked a million steps by himself. He said this was one of his greatest accomplishments.



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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at



About Bridget's Blog

Bridget McCandless

Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, FACP, HCF President/CEO

Bridget McCandless is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Specialist with an interest in chronic disease management and poverty medicine. She shares her thoughts and perspectives on health and policy issues that impact the health of the community as a whole.

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