Published October 16, 2012
Volume 20, Number 10

Make A Difference for Pleasanton Festival 2012: A Catalyst for Change 

Traditionally held on the fourth Saturday of October, Make A Difference Day was launched more than 20 years ago as a national day of community service. “Millions of volunteers around the world unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others,” says a website devoted to the program, sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine, Points of Light, and other partner organizations.

This year's local observance, the Make A Difference for Pleasanton Festival 2012, extends the mission by taking on a stronger role as a catalyst for change. Combining past successful Make A Difference and Community of Wellness festivals in one larger venue, the October 27 event has broadened its focus to include a trio of expos that target ways to improve aggregate well-being, through service, wellness, and safety.

The theme of the Community Service Expo is “Get Connected and Stay Connected.” The Community Wellness Expo emphasizes changing one thing for a healthier lifestyle. The Community Safety Expo highlights emergency preparedness. Representatives of related organizations will be on hand as resources to facilitate change in any of the three expo categories, from earthquake survival to service opportunities. Each group will offer a clear-cut call to action to implement the desired change, either by joining, volunteering, donating, attending, or communicating. 

The call to action is a critical piece in the mechanics of change, explains festival organizer Ron Sutton, CEO of Accusplit in Livermore. A pioneer in digital pedometer accuracy, Sutton has been involved in health and wellness issues for 30 years as part of his campaign to promote physical activity, as exemplified by the local Walk to Wellness programs.

Reviewing recent health research, Sutton was struck by the fact that, for most people, active professional intervention is necessary to change fundamental behaviors after the age of 14. That intervention has been translated into a patented behavior modification program that takes participants through six classic steps: assess the situation, commit to the goal of improvement, get support through a buddy system, track progress, recover from failure, and reward success.

Experts agree that this model is effective, but it has never been widely taught. “I am hoping to change that by promoting the culture of change, so we learn how to change ourselves—and to expect ourselves to do it,” Sutton notes.

The results will bear fruit especially in the area of wellness. “We want to start a dialog and get people thinking that they have to step up and take responsibility for changing their own behavior,” he says. “The bottom line is that this is the only way to prevent chronic problems like type-2 diabetes and obesity.”

Presented by Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative and co-sponsored by ACCUSPLIT, City of Pleasanton, Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, and Pleasanton Unified School District, this year’s festival will be held at the Senior Center, 5353 Sunol Boulevard, from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative will be offering a barbecue lunch, with proceeds going toward the Juanita Haugen Memorial Scholarship for local high school graduates.

For questions or registration information, email info@MakeADifferenceForPleasanton.org.   

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