Photo Credit: Erica Huskey/United Way of the Desert
Tuesday
Jan 19
2016
January 19, 2016

Community Wellness through Technology

Share

In 1986, community partners in the Coachella Valley of California came together to host the Tram Road Challenge (TRC), a six-kilometer run/walk race that entailed an upward climb of 2,000 feet. Even with such a physical challenge, in 2015, the 30th Annual TRC attracted over 2,000 participants raising $60,000 for charity, an event that continued to demonstrate the community’s long-standing commitment to health and service.

Over the past thirty years, the TRC has evolved into much more than a single road race. Now held in conjunction with Make a Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of community service, the TRC promotes health and wellness beyond its six kilometers. In the nine weekends leading up to the TRC, the United Way of the Desert (in partnership with The Desert Sun) hosts a series, the Nine Weekly Walks, across nine cities in the Coachella Valley, aiming to prepare participants for the grueling trek up the tram road. In the process, the events deliver a greater impact to the community’s health.

The evolution of the TRC toward a broader commitment to health and service took another major step forward in 2015 with the formation of a partnership between the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and with Wellable and the United Way of the Desert to launch a digital community wellness program that coincided with the Nine Weekly Walks. By leveraging Wellable’s innovative technology platform, members of the community were able to engage in health competition during and in between the Nine Weekly Walks leading up to the TRC. Community members joined teams and challenged themselves and others to pursue healthier lives by tracking their physical activity, nutrition, sleep, and more. To make participation and tracking more accessible, community members could connect their preferred fitness apps or wearable devices, from Fitbits to Apple Watches, to Wellable to allow seamless and automatic synchronization of wellness data.

By incorporating technology and a digital experience into a tradition-rich series of events, the community partners involved with the TRC were able to broaden their reach and impact. Consumer technologies were critical to this success.

Access

The Nine Weekly Walks and the TRC are limited to specific days and times. By incorporating wellness technology into a community-wide program, the benefits of increased fitness become more available to everyone, especially those who could not attend the initial events. At the same time, technology made health and wellness a part of everyone’s daily lives, not only on Saturdays.

Real-Time, Easy Feedback

Rather than waiting to receive a compilation of results at the end of a week or month, consumer wellness technologies give participants real-time feedback. A push notification about hitting a daily steps goal is far more impactful than a notation in a chart after the fact. Moreover, receiving such a notification in the palm of a hand is far easier to incorporate into a daily wellness routine than tracking such metrics manually.

Beyond the Challenge

Community wellness programs are a great way to engage local individuals and organizations with their health. However, to deliver a lasting impact, communities either need to run events like the TRC very frequently or offer a solution that users can use throughout the year. Technology is a convenient approach toward providing continuity in community wellness.

In 2016, the TRC and its associated events are looking to improve and evolve even more so to strengthen its community’s ties to health and service. As part of the improvement process, the community will be using the Wellable platform once again to help digitize their wellness experience.  The goal is to involve more employers with promoting the program. With 32 employers committing and forming teams last year, the community has a strong foundation to flourish.