Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) recognized the Community College of Qatar as the winners of ‘SIH in the Campuses’ in an official award ceremony on Wednesday. The winners of the competition, which was part of AZF’s wider ‘Step into Health’ initiative, were honored by Dr. Mohammed Ghaith Al Kuwari, the Director of Healthy Lifestyle program at Aspetar – member organization of AZF, and a number of deans and professors from participating universities.
This initiative featured students and staff members from five universities, including the Community College of Qatar (male and female), The College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, Qatar University, University of Calgary in Qatar and Stenden University Qatar.
The winning team took first place after taking a cumulative 292,000 steps during the three month challenge. In total, more than 392,405,000 steps were taken by the participants. The College of the North Atlantic – Qatar won second place, while the Community College of Qatar female campus won third place.
Dr. Mohammed Ghaith Al Kuwari emphasized the role of AZF in advocating physical activity among members of society. He said, “Preserving the health of our youth is vital. They represent a wealth of intellectual resources and will one day be the drivers of our economy and prosperity.”
Dr. Al Kuwari continued, “Overall, we were very happy with the energy that the students, faculty members and employees brought to the ‘Step into Health’ initiative. Our success is dependent on the positive mentality that members bring to programs that encourage people to exercise regularly. We would like to celebrate and honor the leaders and pioneers of this program, past, present and future, who strive to educate others on the importance of leading a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Mr. Abdullah Saeed al Mohannadi, a Health Promotion Researcher at Aspetar, emphasized that the ‘SIH in the Campuses’ program will continue to expand to include other universities. He said, “The fact that 2,393 university students and staff participated in ‘SIH in the Campuses’ is a testament that residents, once they have initiatives designed to encourage them, are ready to engage in physical activity. What is unique about our program is that it focuses on the non-competitive nature and the integration of physical activity in daily lives, and it doesn’t require any additional apparatus. With ‘SIH in the Campus’ coming to close, we want to reassure the community the initiative will continue as long as people are interacting and participating. It has produced a sports-loving community that has students and staff as ambassadors in the universities inspiring others to participate and making their colleagues aware of the importance of physical activity.”
He continued, “Speed is an essential part of our modern world and everything is accessible with a simple push of a button. Therefore, we have developed a state-of-the-art application for the ‘Step into Health’ program to be used on mobile phones that will satisfy the expectations of the younger generations. This is the first application in Arabic which counts steps just like a pedometer. It provides regular health and nutritional advice to users and it also counts calories burnt during exercise.”
“The participation of students from different universities in our initiative and the launch of our new application is a significant milestone for this program. At AZF, we are constantly looking for opportunities to help members of our society enjoy a healthy and happy life,” he added.
During the ceremony Al Mohannadi honored journalist Smail Telai for the award he received from the Council of Arab Ministers of Health on his article “‘Step into Health': a dose of motivation”. Mohannadi commented, “The media plays an important role and consolidates our efforts to reach out to the community, their support is crucial for the success of our various programs. This support endorses our mission of engaging the community in regular physical activities to promote health and well-being.”
The top walker, Mohammed Al-Shami from Lebanon is an IT engineer at Community College in Qatar. He described his experience with ‘sih in the Campus’ challenge, “I won first place for the total number of steps I walked. I walked a daily average of 40,000 steps, and when the competition approached the finish, I devoted a whole weekend to walking where I took 200,000 steps.”
He added, “I was motivated to walk in this challenge by my desire to improve my health, lose weight, and help my university win first place. I also love walking, especially when the weather is nice, and think it is a great way to explore Qatar.”
Charlotte Tuna, an Indian expatriate working as a coordinator at the College of North Atlantic in Qatar, revealed that she had walked up to seven hours a day. “I really appreciated this initiative because it motivated me to become active and lose weight, and over the last two months, I lost a lot of weight. I was taking up to 50,000 steps every day; I used to walk for an hour at the university and three hours in the gym, as well as in the gardens and parks at Aspire.”
Mohannad Saleh, a student at Qatar University said, “I love sports, and I really like walking in particular. According to the SIH mobile phone application, I walked 90 km, which is the approximate distance between Doha and the Saudi Arabian border. I was able to achieve these results by simply walking more around the campus.”
Launched last November under the slogan, ‘Support your University and Participate in the Challenge’, the program was designed to include all sectors of society and encourage students, professors and staff to walk more and change their daily routines. To prepare for the challenge, teams held special sessions at the participating universities to introduce the ‘Step into Health’ initiative, which included presenting the benefits of the initiative, and explaining how to use both the pedometer and the new smartphones application.
The ‘Step into Health’ program is part of Aspire Zone Foundation’s vision to raise awareness on the importance of physical activity, in order to improve health and lessen the risks of chronic diseases.