Lexington becomes health oasis



By Kelsey Caudill

Runners, dancers, ribbon twirlers and Lexingtonians of all ages, including more than 200 UK student volunteers, covered downtown streets on Sunday in an effort to make Kentucky healthier.

The third annual 2nd Sunday event to promote statewide physical activity commenced in Lexington as residents biked, walked, ran, played and participated in healthy activities.  A mile-long loop in the downtown area was blocked off for various types of physical activity, health and nutrition booths, and children’s activities, including inflatables and face painting.

Diana Doggett, Fayette County extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences and state coordinator for the 2nd Sunday initiative, stressed the importance of getting community members involved to make Kentucky a healthier state.

“The 2nd Sunday initiative addresses the critical need to be physically active in Kentucky and is building bridges between community partners,” Doggett said.  “University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences extension agents and the School of Human Environmental Sciences have stepped up to facilitate the majority of 2nd Sunday coalitions in conjunction with local government, health agencies, churches, business and local parks.  In 2009, 2nd Sunday was named a UK Commonwealth collaborative.”

Family studies senior Megan Hempfling interned with the School of Human Environmental Sciences and worked closely with Doggett  to organize Lexington’s 2nd Sunday initiative.

Hempfling said 2nd Sunday is significant because it allows members of the community to participate in physical activity at no charge.

“2nd Sunday doesn’t mean that we have to spend X amount of dollars on something.  It means utilizing our infrastructure to improve our quality of life,” Hempfling said.  “Gym memberships are such a high expense, but here you don’t need one.”

Associate Dean for Extension for the UK College of Agriculture Jimmy Henning emphasized the College of Agriculture’s support for 2nd Sunday and promoting a healthier Kentucky.

“We are about healthy families, healthy lifestyles, nutrition and helping people become more active,” Henning said.  “I think 2nd Sunday makes people realize that physical activity can be fun and that it can take on a lot of different forms.”

This year, 115 of Kentucky’s 120 counties participated in 2nd Sunday.  Kentucky has gained national recognition as the first state to employ a program like this, which tackles the issue of inactivity and the lack of built environment to support physical health, Doggett said.

Nursing sophomore Megan Dodge volunteered at the event and said it was essential to get the campus involved.

“UK is such a huge part of Lexington, and if people see us thinking it’s important then they’re going to think it’s important, too,” Dodge said.

In addition to the state-wide initiative, Lexington holds monthly 2nd Sunday events.  Weekly bike rides departing from Cheapside Park are also held every Sunday.  The next scheduled monthly event is a bike ride from Cheapside Park to the Beaumont Center on Nov. 14.

“2nd Sunday is not just about one fun day in October but more importantly, an opportunity to raise awareness and increase the availability of safe places for physical activity year round,” Doggett said.