By Becca Clemons
Defying a negative statewide reputation, thousands will get off of their couches in an initiative to make Kentucky citizens healthier.
The event, 2nd Sunday, now in its third year, encourages physical activity in the community, as people join together to walk, bike, skate, run or participate as they see fit on the second Sunday of October, said Diana Doggett, Fayette County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent and co-creator of 2nd Sunday.
“This is a 21st-century parade where the spectators are actually participants,” Doggett said.
The statewide initiative has grown dramatically over the past three years from 70 counties participating in 2008 to 101 counties in 2009, Doggett said. This year, 115 of Kentucky’s 120 counties will be involved.
“When you look at what’s happening with 2nd Sunday statewide, it’s becoming a national phenomenon,” Jay McChord, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government council member and 2nd Sunday co-creator, said.
“No one in the country is doing what Kentucky’s doing, and no one in the state is doing what Lexington’s doing,” he said.
Kentucky has the seventh-highest obesity rate in the US, with 30.5 percent of the population listed as obese, a report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said.
The state also has the third-highest percentage of overweight children at 21 percent.
The event aims to prove that Kentucky is making strides to promote health in the state, even though it is ranked among the least healthy states in the nation, Doggett said.
“It sends a message to Lexington that families need more and safer places to be physically active,” she said. “This program plays a key role in addressing physical inactivity and physical health in the state of Kentucky.”
This year, 2nd Sunday will be part of the Spotlight Lexington activities coinciding with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which end Sunday. A one-mile loop downtown, from Upper Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard and Main Street to Short Street, will be closed off for the event.
2nd Sunday aims to explore creative uses of the existing environment, known as “borrowed infrastructure,” Doggett said.
More than 200 students from UK will volunteer during the events, she said, and this is a great opportunity for all students to experience Spotlight Lexington and take advantage of music and other festivities that will fill the Courthouse Plaza.
The idea for 2nd Sunday came from Bogota, Colombia, where more than 70 miles of roads are closed every Sunday to give locals a place to exercise, a news release said.
The Lexington initiative began at UK with the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents. Even though it takes everyone from government officials to health agencies to help coordinate the events, agents have facilitated community leadership and cooperation among many local groups, Doggett said.
“We all need to be united in making sure our policymakers are in support of this,” she said. “They need to know that citizens want this and prioritize this.”
The event’s motto is “Be there and be healthy.”
“This is a catalyst day for the community to see what they have access to 365 days a year,” McChord said. “And for families and individuals to say, ‘I want to lead a healthy lifestyle.’”