Due to COVID-19, pilot communities adapted their campaigns to help people stay safe while getting active. This series highlights local events and initiatives from the community pilot program — including creative ways to promote physical activity during social distancing.
This installment highlights successful online campaign strategies that BikeWalkKC used to promote physical activity in Kansas City, Kansas, and across all of Wyandotte County.
Pilot community at a glance: Wyandotte County, KS
Community type: Urban and rural
Population estimate: 165,429 people
Lead agency: BikeWalkKC
Lead agency mission: To redefine the community’s streets as places for people to build a culture of active living by creating a community that is barrier free, has complete biking and walking access, and has a connected culture of active transportation and active lifestyles
Lead agency website: bikewalkkc.org
Leaning into Outdoor Activities
COVID-19 has caused big shifts in how people get active, with more people turning to outdoor activity options. "Life looks different right now,” says Areiona King, Safe Routes to School coordinator for BikeWalkKC. She explains that people in Wyandotte County and across the country are exploring safe ways to move at their own pace, like biking and walking.
Before the pandemic, BikeWalkKC had developed a Move Your Way community campaign approach that focused on in-person social gatherings. When COVID-19 started, they saw their community’s renewed interest in biking as an opportunity.
Instead of an in-person launch event, BikeWalkKC worked with Nurture KC to give away bicycle helmets to kids in the community during National Bike Month in May — and offered an educational video to help families make sure helmets fit kids properly.
Getting Creative with Virtual Connections
As the pandemic wore on, BikeWalkKC came up with innovative ways to stay connected with the community. They created a fun, engaging series of physical activity bingo boards that they shared on social media and through partners. King says they wanted to remind people that getting active can be as simple as you want it to be. To that end, the bingo boards highlighted everyday activities, like walking to the mailbox.
They also created a series of educational videos about walking and biking safely. Each video opens with a BikeWalkKC instructor standing in front of a pop-up Move Your Way poster in a park or other public space. The videos share key campaign messages, like how much activity kids need each day, and offer activity ideas and safety tips.
And their virtual efforts paid off. By the end of the campaign, the BikeWalkKC team says they increased the number of likes on their Walk WYCO Facebook page by about 30 percent.
Leveraging Partnerships for Wider Reach
BikeWalkKC created a robust partnership network by strengthening old relationships and developing new ones. In total, 15 partners supported their Move Your Way campaign efforts.
BikeWalkKC found that partners were especially interested in using Move Your Way messaging about flexible, personalized activity plans to help people stay active during COVID restrictions. “Move Your Way really fit into everyone’s readjusted goals,” King explains.
To make it easier for partners to share Move Your Way messaging, BikeWalkKC created prewritten social media messages for partners to post on their channels. This helped them reach more people and keep partners engaged during the pandemic.
And to recognize and encourage partner efforts, BikeWalkKC conducted video interviews with partner organizations and shared them on social media.
Building Move Your Way into Broader Community Activities
Partners also presented exciting opportunities to integrate Move Your Way messages and strategies into existing community activities.
For example, BikeWalkKC participated in a workgroup to develop the Kansas City Physical Activity (KCPA) Plan. Laura Steele, director of education at BikeWalkKC, says their Move Your Way campaign experiences helped inform potential physical activity promotion strategies in the KCPA Plan.
They also worked with the Mid-America Regional Council to promote National Walk to School Day in October. Even though kids weren’t attending school in person, BikeWalkKC encouraged families to take a walk together or find creative ways to get active at home. The Mid-American Regional Council promoted BikeWalkKC’s bingo boards for inspiration.
King and Steele agree that the key to developing successful partnerships during the pandemic is staying flexible. “Be open to variety when it comes to what partnerships can look like,” says King. “Even when we can’t be together in person, there are still ways we can connect with our communities.”