City celebrates Vitality Project

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In what was the last big push to get people to sign up for the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, the project’s ambassadors on Monday set up booths at seven different locations around town to deliver the message of the venture and encourage people to participate.

The push came on what Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh deemed as Vitality Day throughout the city.

Participating locations included Albert Lea Medical Center, Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, Great Grains Market & Cafe, the Albert Lea Public Library, Riverland Community College, Trails Travel Center and Hy-Vee.

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“We’re really trying to get people involved,” said Patti Hareid, director of community relations at ALMC. The medical center had several tables set up in a room next to the cafeteria so that employees and members of the public eating in the cafeteria could stop through and learn more about the project.

Hareid said each participating location was given guidelines to follow. The medical center volunteers took different aspects of the Vitality Project and set up tables for each of those aspects.

People could take a Vitality Project bag and fill it up with recipes, pamphlets and other information on topics such as the walking school bus, community gardens, purpose workshops and the faith initiative, to name a few.

To ultimate goal, however, was to get people to sign the project’s pledge and to take the online Vitality Compass to determine their current biological age and find out ways they can improve their lives.

The Vitality Project, which encourages people to make simple changes to achieve a longer, healthier life, was first announced in Albert Lea in January.

City, school and business leaders have since met to find out ways to make healthier environments, and individuals have pledged to work on their own lives.

People only have until the end of August to sign up to participate, as at least six weeks of data is needed to calculate the effects of the small changes enacted by the project.

Everyone who signed up for the Vitality Compass Monday received a free pedometer from AARP and were entered into a drawing to win a Nintendo Wii game system, a pair of tickets to the Renaissance Festival or a Vitality Project T-shirt.

Though the numbers of signups from Monday were unavailable as of press time, the leaders were hopeful the push would help in the goal of reaching 5,000 people by the end of the month. The project was at just over 2,000 people earlier in the month.

“It’s always a good sign when they take a bag and fill it up with information,” Hareid said.

Friends Sue Gregerson and Rita Amundson walked through the medical center’s display on Monday afternoon.

“It looks all good to me,” Amundson said. “It’s all good things.”

Gregerson said the project will give her a chance to change the way she’s used to eating. It will bring into her diet more fruits and vegetables and help her to exercise more.

Full information about the project can be found at