Are you looking for ways to eat healthier and be more active in 2019? Like most of us, one of your goals going into a New Year probably centers on health. Even with great intentions, motivation to stay on track can fade with each new week.

The It’s Time Texas Community Challenge is a free eight-week statewide competition that helps you create healthy habits while also helping your community compete for grant money and bragging rights!

The concept is simple. People, schools and community leaders earn points for cities and towns by participating in healthy activities between Jan. 7 through March 3.

To get started, go to www.ittcommunitychallenge.com to register and select your community. This quick step will earn you an easy 500 points to kick off the challenge, and if you register before Jan. 7, you will receive 200 bonus points. Each time you log a healthy activity, you will be entered for prize drawings. The more points you earn, the more chances you have to win.

You can earn points for tracking physical activity and weight, watching a video about healthy living, hosting community events and taking healthy selfies. The selfies, worth 200 points each, show you participating in healthy activities or eating healthy! Already using a fitness tracker? You may be able to sync your fitness tracker to your Community Challenge account when you register so that your physical activity can be counted automatically.

Your community leaders also play a huge role in the effort. The mayor’s pledge to participate is worth 10,000 points while city council members who sign a pledge earn 2,500 points. Other ways to earn points include creating a mayor’s challenge video, hosting community events and establishing a health collaborative.

School representatives can earn points for their city and school district! Thousands of points are available for school boards, principals and teachers who sign pledges to participate. Healthy lesson plans and staff activities also earn points. There are also points up for grabs for businesses and organizations.

I mentioned bragging rights because it’s a huge part of the idea behind the challenge. Who wouldn’t want their community to be well-represented not only in Galveston County, but also statewide? In addition to bragging rights, the Texas community that racks up the most points will also receive funds to put toward future community health efforts.

Texas City dominated other Galveston County cities in 2018 and 2017, finishing third in the state in the mid-size category both years. Are any other Galveston County cities up to the challenge?

Whether you’re participating as an individual or represent a city, school or organization, we’re here to help. Check out www.gchd.org/challenge for more information about how to participate and contact information for assistance. Let us know about any events planned in your community and we’ll be sure to post them on our website.

During the challenge, make our Facebook page a regular stop for weekly point updates by community and school. It’s time, Galveston County. Let’s get healthy!

Kathy Barroso is CEO of the Galveston County Health District.

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