Promotional Spotlight: WITF

Promotional Spotlight: WITF

WITF ‘To the Moon & Back’ walking challenge promotes pandemic wellness efforts in the community

When the COVID-19 pandemic began and the ensuing Pennsylvania lockdown was in full effect, Heather Woolridge, director of community engagement at WITF, and her Transforming Health team felt compelled to provide health and wellness resources to the community.  Transforming Health is a WITF project in partnership with two community sponsors, Capital BlueCross and WellSpan Health.  In mid-April, the team began to discuss potential ideas and activities, meeting on a weekly basis to brainstorm and develop a four-part, comprehensive plan for the 2020 Transforming Health program.  The theme for the program focuses on resiliency and mental and physical well-being. Woolridge explained that the program is a multi-faceted summer-long campaign, with the “To the Moon & Back” walking challenge in the program’s third leg.  “It really is a great part of the overall program,” said Woolridge. “The walking challenge promotes wellness by encouraging participants to walk in honor of those on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The first leg of the WITF campaign included more than 3,500 grab-and-go bags that Woolridge and her team provided to local schools in the final weeks of school at the end of May and early June.  The bags contained health and wellness resources and activities for children and their parents to do together at home. The second leg promoted an app called myStrength to WITF audience.  The app can be used to create a confidential account and community to share mental health struggles and help individuals stay on track with issues like depression and anxiety and regulating sleep and weight.  “In addition to physical health and wellness, we want to promote wellness of the mind,” said Woolridge. “It’s important that these legs provided our community with the tools to help them with that aspect.”

The “To the Moon & Back” walking challenge launched on June 15 and will run through Labor Day, on Sept. 7.  The challenge issued to the WITF community? Help amass the steps necessary to walk to the moon and back (more than a billion) during the 12-week campaign.  The audience can visit the WITF website to enroll by creating an account and determining how to share their steps with the publication.  Participants can use third party tracking devices and software, like Fitbit, Garmin and Apple, or they can elect to log in and manually enter their steps.  Woolridge and her team also included a link to a conversion tool for other activities to show what activities like riding a bike, hiking or even cleaning amount to in the form of steps.  The program has been successful, with more than 1,100 people participating, and while they will likely not accumulate the steps necessary to return from the moon, they are on track to make the initial trek there in time.

Woolridge shared that the 2020 Transforming Health program was sponsored by Wellspan Health and Capital BlueCross, both of which have partnered with WITF on the Transforming Health program for several years.  “It is great to have strong partners for a program like this,” said Woolridge. “Every week we send out a weekly email to encourage the participants to keep going, and we announce one weekly winner of a prize package that includes cool swag from our sponsors like thermoses, yoga mats and notebooks. We’ve had a positive response to those.”  The sponsoring partners also afford Woolridge and her team the ability to award prizes at the end of the challenge to the individual and team with the most steps.  Those winners can identify a charitable organization to receive a $500 donation.

The fourth and final leg of the program will be an author event that will correspond with the announcement of the walking challenge winners on Sept. 29.  The “A Summer Read: Beyond the Pages” is a virtual event where WITF reporter Brett Sholtis will moderate a discussion and Q&A session with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, authors of the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.  The event will take place on WITF’s YouTube channel.  Woolridge said that she and the WITF team felt it was the perfect book to select for this year’s event because the book carries with it a message that they hope will continue of the pandemic and beyond.  “It’s a book about how to pivot and adapt, and how to manage through difficult times,” said Woolridge. “We’re a lot more resilient than we think we are.”

For more information, contact Heather Woolridge at 717-395-3347 or