By Jack Rubinger

It’s been five months since the initial lock down in Portland and we’re facing the next (silent) public health emergency, a mental health pandemic.

People aren’t leaving their houses that much and motivation can be difficult.

As feelings of loneliness and isolation plague remote workers and fear is a day to day struggle for many people, employers like the CorVel and Multnomah County are seeking digital solutions.

Enter Walker Tracker.

Walker Tracker helps organizations all over the world support their employee’s health and fitness with wellness programs, digital tracking devices like Fitbits, service, support and motivation.

“People need connection and purpose right now,” said Taylor Welsh, Walker Tracker CEO. “We provide a space for shared motivation and support, team building and health insights. Getting and sharing exercise and being accountable are all tied together.”

Walker Tracker is teaming up with Moda Health for a Portland-wide movement challenge to support the Children’s Cancer Association. This is usually a one-day event called “Jog for Joy.” Last year, the Blazers showed up to promote the event.

Because of COVID-19, the event is going digital this year. Companies and individuals can get involved with donations. The goal is to raise $6,000. Dates of the event are September 14-22.

“Because people aren’t gathering in break rooms, we’re creating new environments to stimulate conversation and new ideas,” said Welsh.

For example: the Oregon Education Association (OEA) Choice Trust, a local organization, has created a virtual map route so participants can virtually visit the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

Along the way, walkers are notified of reaching milestones and how others are doing on their journey while walking at their own pace.

OEA Choice Trust is an organization dedicated to promoting the total well-being of Oregon public school employees. They believe that all educators, no matter their role, should have the support they need to be well-physically, emotionally and socially.

Through grant opportunities, professional development and technical assistance, they provide expertise and resources to help Oregon public school employees create comprehensive and flexible well-being programs.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, having access to virtual wellness challenges was a helpful tool for our grantees to continue their well-being programs and communicate with their staff,” said Rachel Drushella, of OEA Choice Trust.

“Used to being around students, either in the classroom or on the bus, many educators were feeling isolated and supporting mental health was important to district and community college leaders. Walker Tracker provided a virtual platform for staff to challenge each other and stay connected while supporting their health and well-being.”

OEA offers Walker Tracker as a free benefit to all current and eligible past grantees across the state. Currently, over 30 K-12 districts, education service districts and community colleges are utilizing the program.

Another example: a county in West Virginia was voted the least healthy county in the state. Rather than laugh it off, county officials got a grant to take a huge initiative to change. With the funds, they got motivated and contacted Walker Tracker to create a community-wide program to help get people in shape, feel better and get off their bottoms.

Now encompassing more than 5,000 participants, the program actively involves community members of all ages together walking, talking, laughing and de-stressing during these chaotic times.

The Tracker sees three different personas getting involved in these types of wellness programs: those who love the physical challenge, those who are driven by data collection and others who simply enjoy the social aspect of walking. Once they get going, they may drift from one category to another.

It attracts many in their 30s and 40s and women generally have high rates of engagement. They’re in use in more than 100 countries and have had success with school districts, corporations and manufacturers.

Health insurers are looking for ways to stand out, so they’re offering Walker Tracker-created wellness programs to their corporate members. These wellness programs create loyalty and devoted followings. When people feel fit, they tend to eat and sleep better, feel more connected and are generally happier.

During these troubling, confusing and stressful times, isn’t feeling better something we all want?

For more information, visit walkertracker.com.

Photo: Marketing Manager Mike McGuffey, Blaze the Trail Cat & Wellness Advisor Cassy Brown set up on the waterfront for the 2019 Jog for Joy by Walker Tracker