During her lunch break at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Sophie Streeter wants to make the most of her time. So, she walked across the state of Illinois.
Streeter, a Forest Park resident, is participating in a state program that encourages people to live healthier lifestyles through daily activity. Walk Across Illinois, as the program is called, uses the 167-mile breadth of the Prairie State as a goal for walkers to aim for. Streeter, who spent her lunch breaks and other moments of down time logging her miles, completed the distance in roughly four months. She is the program’s first participant to be featured as part of a new public awareness campaign.
“We had a lot of candidates and we thought Sophie would really hit home because she’s an ordinary person who has made some simple changes,” Katie Hinterlong, a spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. Quinn’s office is responsible for the Walk Across Illinois program.
According to a statement released by Quinn, Streeter, 29, is logging a little more than four miles a day by taking walks during her lunch break, participating in aerobics classes, salsa dancing and skipping the bus for the first leg of her commute to work. Part of the program’s appeal is that it allows participants to take credit for simple activities, such as playing with their children, in the hopes that those small successes will foster more meaningful changes in their behavior.
“It helps people take the first major step to living a healthy lifestyle,” Dan Persky, also of the lieutenant governor’s office, said.
There are roughly 11,000 people across the state participating, Persky said, 14 percent of which have completed a distance equal to walking across the state. By using an interactive website to monitor their progress, www.walkacrossillinois.org, people like Streeter can see exactly where they are in their trek. For most participants the program will take 12 months to complete.
Streeter is now attempting to traverse the equivalent of the state’s length, 595 miles, and is gearing up for a three-day walk next summer in support of breast cancer research.