A Sample Orientation Session

After an introduction session, participants may need some time to reflect on the material you have provided so far and decide if the group is right for them. Once participants have decided to join the group, an orientation session can be an opportunity to:

  • Sign physical activity waivers and consents to use of image
  • Set a goal for participating in the group
  • Complete the Mood Walks Pre-Program Questionnaire
  • Set norms and rules for your group
  • Describe how participants should get ready for a walk
    (see “Helping Participants Prepare for a Walk”)

Signing Participant Agreements

  • Let participants know that although they will receive numerous health benefits by participating in the group, there is a small degree of risk involved. Let participants know that the program is being planned carefully to limit the risk involved.
  • Explain to participants that information pertaining to the Mood Walks evaluation will be collected as part of the group, and explain how this information will be used (see “Evaluating Your Mood Walks Group”). Outlining this information at the beginning of participants’ involvement with a group conveys respect and transparency, and communicates that your participants’ preferences and need for privacy are important to you.
  • Ask participants about their comfort level in having their photograph taken and used in promotional materials for your group.

Your organization may have its own consent forms that you can use. If not, check out the “Physical Liability Waiver” and “Consent to Use of Image” forms in the online Appendices.


It is useful for participants to set a goal for their participation in the group. Also, the Mood Walks Pre-Program Questionnaire asks participants to identify a personal goal. See “Goal-Setting” for information about how to help participants set goals for themselves.

The Mood Walks Pre-Program Questionnaire

Participants are required to complete this questionnaire before the walking group starts, and
an orientation session presents an appropriate opportunity. See “Evaluating Your Mood Walks Group” for more information.

Group Rules and Norms

Creating group norms can be a team-building process that increases participants’ feeling of ownership over the group. These may be modified as your group develops. Groups can create their own rules about how they would like the group to operate.

Here are some example rules:

  • Respect your body and go at your own pace.
  • Let the group know if you need a break, or if you are not feeling well.
  • Watch out for each other; let others know about hazards.
  • No one walks alone!

Areas for group discussion might include:

  • How long to wait for latecomers
  • Headphone and cellphone usage while on walks
  • Smoking while on walks
  • Bringing pets or other people to the group

For more information about group rules, see the “Frequently Asked Questions from Participants” section.

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