Participants in this year’s Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s (CPA) Steptember challenge are stepping into the final leg of the initiative, raising both funds for the Alliance and their fitness levels.
Since September 3, participants have been aiming to reach a goal of 10,000 steps per day for 28 days in order to raise funds to help pay for equipment, therapy, and research into groundbreaking treatments for cerebral palsy.
The CPA’s general manager of fundraising, Lucy Jacka, said the challenge was originally inspired through a desire to bring people together for a cause, as well as to encourage participant fitness.
“We wanted to join these two things together to help support a great cause,” Ms Jacka said.
“It’s a win-win for all.”
Channel 7 social media producer Maddison Mangan and her team of four are one group taking part in the challenge and enjoying the benefits it provides.
Ms Mangan said she was happy with her progress and her fitness level that was increasing throughout the challenge.
“This has honestly been the best thing for me,” she said.
“My goal is to [use the challenge to] lose 10 kilos, and I’ve almost reached my goal just from all the walking and eating super clean.”
Ms Mangan said the fitness aspect of the challenge was a main influence for her to take part in it.
“I found that I wasn’t leading the healthiest lifestyle for the past few months and it was affecting my mental health, so I wanted to make a positive change, but in a way that held me accountable,” she said.
“It was only a few days later that I received an email at work encouraging staff to join Steptember to get fit and active, but also [to] contribute to the community in a positive way.”
Ms Jacka said the average office worker takes only 3000 steps per day, which lies well below the recommended 10,000 steps.
“Steptember is a great way for participants to increase their fitness levels, develop new healthy habits, and have a great time with friends and colleagues,” she said.
Ms Mangan said she had been trying a range of different ways to keep her steps and fitness levels up, aside from long walks and hikes.
“[I’ve been] going to the gym and focusing on more cardio workouts, [or] if I am at work, taking a five-minute break to go walk around the buildings,” she said.
“Even things like parking further away from the office or the shops to ensure I get those extra crucial steps in.”
Ms Mangan said she had also been trying more unconventional ways to improve her fitness, too.
“I want to make sure I’m having fun whilst doing this challenge, so I have even started going on YouTube and looking up dance work outs for something different,” she said.
“I’m a bit lame, but I do love to just be silly and not take life too seriously, so, this is my way of doing that.”
Head of Steptember Global, Conchita Casteigt, said this year’s initiative was proving to be a fundraising success.
“Steptember has over 80,000 participants stepping this year,” she said.
“We’re… over half way, and so far we have raised over $4.9 million in Australia and $7.3 million globally.”
While fitness was the original motivation, Ms Mangan said spreading community awareness was still a crucial part of her decision to join the challenge.
“I grew up with family members suffering from disabilities and family members who worked as carers for people suffering with cerebral palsy, so I can sympathise with the challenges and hardships these men, women and children face,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of money of my own, but I do have my mental health, a functioning body I can control, and if all I have to do is walk a minimum 10, 000 steps a day to help someone else, then I’m going to do it.”
Steptember is currently the leading annual fundraising initiative for the CPA, as well as being Australia’s leading fundraising health and wellness campaign.
The challenge currently also runs in the USA, New Zealand, France, Turkey, the Netherlands and Singapore, although Ms Jacka hopes to see the fundraiser expand throughout the globe.
In addition to raising funds for the foundation and creating fitness benefits, Ms Jacka said the challenge also raised community awareness about cerebral palsy.
“Steptember increases awareness about cerebral palsy in the wider community,” she said.
“Cerebral Palsy accounts for one in every 700 births and is the most common physical disability in children,” Ms Jacka said.
“Steptember starts conversations about cerebral palsy in schools, workplaces and households,” she said.
To find out more about the challenge and to track the initiative’s progress, visit steptember.org.au.