Workshops and Breakout Sessions
These tend to be opportunities for more practical information giving and audience interaction. Several topics are well suited to such a setting. Mark can and often does work with communities and clients to develop workshops that would be more specific to your needs. Typical times: 1 to 2 hours.
- Creating more livable, walkable communities. This is an opportunity to describe in detail the attributes of more walkable, bicycle-friendly settings, and the successes of specific communities. Mark suggests concrete steps individuals, neighborhoods, professionals, companies, and governments can take to immediately begin to alter their environments more positively.
- Walk to School/Safe Routes to School Programs. Mark shares insights on developing successful Walk-To-School-Day events and how schools can harness the excitement of such an event to create long-term, permanent improvements that allow for safe walking- (and biking-) to-school practices. Mark shares case studies from around the country that will inspire any school district to begin a walk to school initiative.
- Community Active Living Assessment. This is a participatory walk (or occasionally bike ride) guided by Mark, in which participants will look for fundamental environmental elements that encourage and discourage active lifestyles. Usually very highly rated by participants, this is an opportunity to not just see but to experience the built environment as a pedestrian, and recognize the impact (or absence) of everything from mundane features such as curb ramps and crosswalks, to multi-use trails, traffic calming measures, and mixed-use environments.
- Work Site or School Wellness and Physical Activity Promotion. Two frustrations plague work place physical activity promotions: Traditional fitness facilities and programs (such as a lunch time walking club) that are only utilized by those who are already inclined to be physically active. Even worse, when a specific program is launched to reach the "inactive" populations, those who take part only do so as long as the program is in place. This session focuses on creative approaches to engaging more of the population in physical activity through the most inviting activity with the fewest barriers (walking) and then getting that activity to stick through environmental and policy supports that make it easier and more appealing to stay active.
- Effective Media Relations. As a former magazine editor and TV host, I'm aware of the time and magnitude constraints under which most reporters work. As a result, I can offer insights into how best to build a relationship with media outlets in your community as you promote stories related to your work (such as health and physical activity promotion, trails and greenways, sustainable communities), and how to be certain stories are timely and technically accurate.
- Lessons Learned on a Very Long Walk. In August, 2006 Mark was part of a five-person team attempting to hike the full 218-mile John Muir Trail in just seven days. (The trip was detailed in the Dec. 2007 issue of Backpacker magazine.) The plan was to average 31 miles (50 kilometers) a day from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney, crossing ten mountain passes ranging from 9,000 to over 13,000 foot elevations in the process. Though the stunning images of the rugged, Sierra Nevada high country make it a visually impressive presentation, the enduring lessons learned preparing for and during this hiking marathon are transferable to absolutely everyone, whether building more activity into your own life or promoting it for others. You'll receive practical insights such as gearing up for a more active lifestyle (from shoes to walking poles) and matching your activity level to your goals (health, weight loss, fitness). But you'll also get a peek into the keys to motivation, and making behavior change stick. That leads to the real insight of this experience: that the greatest challenge we face is building a world where everyone can be more active without having to seek out a 220-mile backcountry trail. Learn whether the hikers succeeded, and be impressed with what the human body can do when given the very best that the natural world has to offer as daily inspiration. It is a lesson we must all take to heart.
- The Power of Walking. This can be built around a walk as the central element of the session, with a brief warm-up before and stretches afterward; the length and speed are tailored to the group. Or it can be presentation-style (including PowerPoint slides), focusing on the health and fitness benefits of regular walking, and how to make it a daily habit. It can go into detail on successfully promoting physical activity for instructors and program leaders, covering for example injury prevention and technique for more athletic walking. Or it can be directed at general consumers, with broad health, weight loss, and motivational information.
- The 20% Boost Pedometer Program. Pedometers, or step counters, are known to be an effective activity promotion tool. Many experts recommend a target of 10,000 steps a day for long term health. That can be a daunting initial target to that large segment of the US population that normally gets 5,000 steps a day or less. It's better to measure baseline activity level first and then set modest weekly increases as goals. This approach comes from the program Pedometer Walking developed by Mark Fenton and leading pedometer researcher, David Basset of the Univ. of Tennessee. It is ideal for work site wellness programs. The effort to accumulate more steps also makes people keenly aware of the barriers to routine walking such as locked stairwells, missing sidewalks, and unsafe streets; it is perfect to couple with the use of walkability checklists in a community.