Published March 15, 2011
Volume 19, Number 3

World Walk to Wellness: A Park a Week is All They Ask

Dolores Bengtson (center), an expert trail guide, leads a group
on a trail through Pleasanton’s Arroyo Del Valle.  Photo credit: 
Courtesy of World Walk to Wellness

World Walk to Wellness is a budding all-volunteer program that combines congenial weekly group walks with exploration of the city's parks and trails to promote regular exercise as part of healthier living.

WWtoW has inaugurated two kinds of “walk-and-talk” activities on Saturday mornings. The weekly “easy walks” rotate among Pleasanton's 40-odd public parks, whose paved, level paths make them suitable for baby strollers and wheelchairs. Starting at 9 a.m., participants can walk as long as their stamina and schedule permit—single or multiple laps.

Longer walks, planned monthly, offer more of a challenge. Over the course of an hour or more, the group explores local trails along arroyos and other native landscapes. While most paths will be fairly level, gravel or dirt may make these treks inappropriate for those requiring wheeled assistance.

Both types give walkers the chance to see Pleasanton from a new vantage point. Even long-time residents will enjoy the surprise of discovering neighborhood parks, trails, and vistas they didn't know existed.

The weekly walk series kicked off on January 22 with several loops through the seven-acre Moller Park on Pleasant Hill Road, near Stoneridge and Foothill roads. Leading the group was local resident Ron Sutton, the inspiration behind the program. In athletic circles Sutton is known as “Mr. Pedometer” for his role developing an instrument that accurately measures footsteps and activity levels.

The first trail walk, which followed the service roads along the arroyos and the Pleasanton Canal, took place on February 26. Delores Bengtson, a central figure in the establishment of the city's many parks, guided the group this time, sharing her expert knowledge of local flora and fauna.

Bengtson will also take the lead at several of the next trail walks, scheduled for March 19, April 9, April 30, May 4, and June 1. The March outing is a ramble through Callippe Preserve, while April 9 participants will explore the less well-known Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail, named in honor of the woman who championed its construction. Dedicated in October 2009, the Kane trail encircles Bernal Community Park on the southwest side of the city. The April 30 trek will be held in conjunction with Hope Hospice's annual Hike for Hope in the Sunol Regional Wilderness.

Advance registration is not required for the events, which are open to the public at no charge. Walkers can, however, make a contribution in any amount to the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation. So far, the group has raised about $6,000 for PPIE's wellness grants to local public schools (including matching funds contributed by sponsor Accusplit).

To receive notification of future park and trail dates and locations, send an email to walks@WorldWalkToWellness.org. Sutton is taking the walking program several steps further, enlisting supporters in the creation of a Community of Wellness to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. Visit the website for the latest information.


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