BY TONY WEST/ Every October, Tony Williams is on the move. In fact, he’s been trying to get his entire district on the move as well.
Eight years ago, State Sen. Williams (D-W. Phila.) began to push a series of fitness-related events. It started with a 3k/6k health walk in Cobbs Creek, kicking off from the Laura Sims Skate House. The calendar began to balloon with related activities, as one person told another and community fitness experts sought to climb aboard the Senator’s bandwagon.
This year, Williams’ “Health Season,” as he calls it, has become the most-elaborate community-outreach program – for any issue – organized by any state lawmaker in the Philadelphia delegation. Starting Oct. 1 and running through mid-November, 24 different activities have been coordinated through the Senator’s office. Added to the weekly walking club are a personal trainer at Sayer Recreation Center, soca line dancing at Turner School, and Zumba at Kingsessing Recreation Center.
All are free and need no registration. They are designed to be as easy as possible for people to connect with.
Corporate sponsorship is provided by Bravo Health and Brown’s Family ShopRites.
It has been a journey for the Senator as well. “I am speaking from personal testimony,” said Williams, who is living with diabetes and has struggled with his weight. “These are issues that become more apparent as you age.” This year, he bragged his office staff has collectively lost 200 lb.
But it is a struggle shared with many of his constituents. “My district has a significant population of working-class people with a lot of lifestyle issues,” Williams noted. “These are leading to chronic illnesses and driving up health-care costs. I wanted to do something in the area of prevention.”
In a former age, working-class people often pushed their bodies hard to earn a living. It was often risky and exhausting – but it tended to keep you in shape. But the prevalent mechanization of modern life has taken a lot of the sweat out of work. At the same time, everyday diets have become flooded with cheap calories.
The result? Large numbers of Americans aren’t getting the exercise they need; and it’s killing them.
Simple, low-cost moves can help change your lifestyle, Williams said. A pedometer can help you track your steps and help build more walking into your day, he suggested. “You can switch from bread to vegetables and salad,” he added. “You can drink more water. People see results.”