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SCI Huntingdon's RTU completes Annual Walk-a-Thon

Tags: Huntingdon
June 18, 2021 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

PA Coat of Arms

"Six minutes to go!" yelled Corrections Activity Specialist B. Smeltz, his voice loud enough to just slightly echo off the 132-year-old red brick walls of the SCI Huntingdon Residential Treatment Unit (RTU) yard.

Smeltz (pictured with inmate walkers) is a little more enthusiastic than the average DOC employee and frequently voiced encouraging banter and challenges to those walking laps. On this day, he was keeping track of the time and number of laps completed in SCI Huntingdon's RTU yard for what has become their annual "Walk-a-Thon."

inmates walk past an employee at a walk-a-thon

This is a voluntary event where inmates walk laps in the yard for a pre-determined amount of time. The total laps completed over the course of a month are tallied, and if that total exceeds a certain number of laps, all the participants receive a prize.

This year's prize for participation was a bag of chips and bottle of tea. Inmates could earn additional prizes of their choice for various categories: completing the most laps; completing the most laps among inmates 50 and older; and completing the most laps among inmates 60 and older.

This annual "Deputy's Challenge" has become a much-anticipated event for RTU staff and residents. It is physically easy enough for most to participate in regardless of fitness level. It is conducted over an extended period of time (one month) to allow everyone the chance to take part. Facility staff encourage participation as a form of stress relief, to maintain a healthy routine and to provide a sense of community on the unit. It has become just one of the ways facility staff and inmates have been able to establish a therapeutic alliance that helps not only those overcoming mental illness but also staff providing treatment.

RTU staff and administrators visit the yard while the event is happening to watch and encourage participants.  Ultimately though, it all comes down to the final tally of laps completed.

This year's goal was set higher than previous years at 2,400 laps, or 150 miles. Just as in previous years, the residents rose to the challenge and exceeded the goal. In total, they completed 2,623 laps, or 163 miles, with 48 inmates participating. ,

Everyone had a great time and enjoyed working together to exceed the goal of 150 miles. As an added bonus, participants are a little bit healthier for it.

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