Be prepared for the unexpected on walks. Thorough planning and careful route selection can help mitigate risk, but there is always the chance a medical emergency and/or psychological event could occur. For some participants, being outdoors and being in a social setting can be an emotion-provoking experience. Not only that, but participants who are not used to being active may be challenged by the physical demands of the walk.
Review your organization’s safety standards and risk-management policies related to physical activity programs, and discuss with co-facilitators, volunteers, and students how to respond in case of emergency. Adopt the rule that “No one walks alone”; this will allow facilitators to monitor the mental and physical state of participants, and respond to changes quickly. Be sure to always carry supplies that would be necessary in an emergency. Check in with participants frequently, and encourage rest breaks at need.
See “Leading an Inclusive Group” for more information about warning signs to watch for during a walk.