AUGUSTA – The Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County won an award from the Governors Council on Physical Fitness, Sports, Health and Wellness.

During a ceremony at the State House in Augusta, the coalition received the 2005 Contest for Communities Award for its “STRIDES Walk Around the World” program. Sen. Chandler Woodcock attended the ceremony and congratulated the agency.

In an effort to increase participation and promote its walking program, STRIDES, the coalition launched “Walk Around the World,” a September event challenging the community to collectively walk 24,000 miles, the distance around the world.

Greater Franklin County accomplished the goal of walking around the world in 30 days, with a total of 403 participants walking a total of 25,168 miles.

The coalition partnered with area businesses to offer incentive prizes, including a mountain bike and helmet, kayak and paddle, pedometers, gift certificates, ski passes, yoga classes and passes to fitness centers.

Executive Director Leah Binder accepted the award at the ceremony held in the Hall of Flags. Also attending were staff members Nicole Ditata, Sandy Richard and Nate Morse, who coordinated the program.

Also along to join in the recognition was one of the program’s shining stars, Livermore Falls Middle School, represented by Principal Matt Gilbert and teacher Denise Acritelli. With them they brought Chandler White, Steve Souther, Sara Pulsifer and Alicia Rawding, seventh-grade students.

The students and their classmates were facing a trimester without physical education classes. So when several teachers and the principal received word of the Walk Around the World event, they rearranged the schedule so the students had 30 minutes of activity every other day. The students were recognized for their effort.

Those who have questions or would like to find out more about the STRIDES program should call 645-3136 or toll free 1-800-525-3136 or check the Web site at

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