50 million steps challenge gets mental health clients moving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fifty million steps.  That’s the walking challenge for 200 metro residents over the next three months.  Everyone in the challenge has other challenges in life that many of us couldn’t imagine.  Yet they’re excited about doing this for their teams and for themselves.

Lou Cindy Barbee is a walker who’s using a walker.

“I just had two knee surgeries and a hip surgery and I’m ready,” said Barbee.

No stopping her or Linda Worley.

“I have diabetes and a brain tumor and sitting around feeling sorry for yourself don’t help matters any,” said Worley.

It doesn’t help when you have major depression, too; chronic, persistent depression.

“I have to get out and do something because I was used to working before I dropped into this depression,” said Barbee.

Both women are clients of TMC Behavioral Health and its day program.  For the next three months, they’re among 200 clients of area community mental health centers who are challenged to take 50 million steps altogether.  They’ll keep track with pedometers.  The distance amounts to about 125 miles per person.

One goal is to improve their mental health.

“I can go out and walk and the endorphins kick in and you do feel better,” said Worley.

Their recreational therapist says the challenge is also aimed at improving physical health.  Problems such as diabetes are more common in those with major mental illness.  They die, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population.

“It is astounding.   So hopefully this’ll keep ‘em going longer because they’ll be moving around and helping themselves,” said Ron Tankel of TMC Behavioral Health.

The comraderie is bound to lift participants, too, as each mental health center team tries to out walk the others.

Asked about winning the walking challenge, Worley is confident.

“We know we are and my goal is to get a million by myself,” she said.

Barbee added, “Yes, we’re gonna win.  I’m gonna win.”

Every walker could win in this challenge.

A kick-off celebration will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at Loose Park.   Folks in the challenge are encouraged to walk anywhere they can do so safely at any time.

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