LAPORTE | Mayor Blair Milo is doing her part to build a stronger community and nation by promoting exercise and good nutrition throughout Indiana.
In less than a month, she's already been to 10 counties in the southern part of the state and by Oct. 18 her plan is to have visited each of the 92 counties with her physical and mental well-being initiative.
"I'm making my way north," said Milo.
This is all happening as the city is about to embark on the third annual "Fitness Fridays," a 5k run or walk that consistently draws hundreds of participants, including some on bicycles.
"We invite anyone at any fitness level to come out and enjoy visiting friends and neighbors while getting active," said Milo.
Milo is tracking her way across the state introducing activities geared toward improving physical and mental well-being as part of her belief that real positive change starts from every individual striving toward positive growth.
She specifically works with communities in identifying areas where a 5k route can be established and how to create an event that's safe for the participants.
Milo was instrumental in starting Fitness Fridays in 2012 with help from the LaPorte Family YMCA and IU Health LaPorte hospital.
Walkers, runners and bicyclists every late Friday afternoon until October venture down Michigan Avenue to Beechwood Golf Course and back.
This year's season of Fitness Fridays begins March 28 at 4:15 p.m. in front of the YMCA.
The mayor also begins every city council meeting with a brief physical activity such as leg lifts and arm stretches with the audience invited to join in.
Milo said the success of those programs led her to start introducing the Fitness Friday concept in other Hoosier communities during Saturday visits.
Her "Step Up Saturdays" initiative is aimed at improving Indiana's health ranking of 41 out of 50 states by encouraging cities and towns to adopt similar exercise related events using the Fitness Friday model then building on it.
She's also hosted a 5k walk or run in three of the counties she visited since the first of March, bringing with her things like distance and route markers and making sure plenty of water and other amenities are on hand for the participants.
"All of it is to showcase how easy it is to set something like this up for a community to do on a routine basis," Milo said.
Milo said exercise and good nutrition helps people feel better and gives them more incentive for setting higher goals to achieve.
"LaPorte is becoming known statewide as a leader in community health programs," said Milo, who added exercise and good nutrition are part of the equation for making the state and entire nation stronger to achieve more success in an increasingly competitive global job market.
"Our efforts are being recognized by others and they are leading to progress. We're in a unique opportunity to be able to set an example as opposed to where we may have been three or four years ago," said Milo.