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UNG kicks off participation in USG health challenge

HealthTrails 2017
UNG President Bonita Jacobs (left) leads the Kick-off Walk along with Beth Arbuthnot (right) on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

The University System of Georgia (USG) has launched a system-wide health challenge, inviting all institutions to participate. Dubbed HealthTrails, the initiative officially began at the University of North Georgia (UNG) with a Kick-off Walk on March 20 on all five campuses.

UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs led the walk on the Dahlonega Campus, beginning at Price Memorial Hall and making a loop around the Gen. William "Lipp" Livsey Drill Field. That same afternoon, Dr. Richard Oates, vice president of UNG's Gainesville Campus, Jerry Sullivan, interim CEO of the university's Oconee Campus, Sandy Ott, director of the Blue Ridge Campus, and Lyne Hitt of UNG's Cumming Campus also led walks on their campuses. So far, 352 faculty and staff at UNG have signed up for the challenge. More than 120 participated in the Kick-off Walk across the university.

"We are all excited about this event; we know that when we are well and fit, we are more productive," Jacobs said prior to leading the Kick-off Walk. "This is a great new initiative, especially considering the opportunity for participants to progress in small steps."

The six-week HealthTrails Challenge is a competition between all USG institutions. All benefit-eligible employees are able to compete by logging steps, water consumption, and acts of kindness. Participants from the winning institution will be treated to lunch and presented with the USG Well-being Traveling Trophy.

Participants have the option to use Fitbit or Jawbone to track daily steps, and sync their device with their HealthTrails account or the app; participants can also log their progress manually. A Fitbit subsidy of $44 is available for the first 5,000 employees who do not currently own a tracking device and have not previously received a USG Fitbit subsidy. Employees eligible for the Fitbit subsidy will receive an email on the Monday following their registration.

"UNG is honored to be participating in the HealthTrails Challenge; its holistic design benefits both the body and the mind, and I'm excited to see the event boost the physical and mental well-being of our campuses and university," Oates said. "The benefits of exercise on a workforce are well researched. Physical activity lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and depression. The act of doing good deeds for others is part of our university's DNA, and positively impacts campus morale. I look forward to contributing, and encourage all UNG faculty and staff to participate, whether officially or unofficially."

The challenge also includes choosing a "trail" to travel; as participants log activity, they will travel their chosen trail and learn about captivating attractions throughout the world.

Important dates for the competition include:

  • Monday, March 20: Start logging activity and begin recording health habits
  • Monday, April 3: Team formation deadline, last day to form or join a team of 4-10 people
  • Sunday, April 30: Program ends, but backlogging is allowed until Wednesday, May 3

Online registration and more information is available at

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