Friends of Reading Hospital, an organization of community volunteers, donated $250,000 to Reading Health System in July 2013 to fund 10 community health and wellness initiatives, including a recently launched Outdoor Berks smartphone app to help keep the people of Berks County active.
Committed to improving the quality of health care in Berks County, Friends of Reading Hospital has been in existence for 125 years. The auxiliary of community volunteers manages fundraising events throughout the year to raise funds to implement health and wellness programming at Reading Hospital.
The community health department of Reading Health Systems partnered with Friends of Reading Hospital to create a 10-initiative program, naming it Partnership for a Healthier Berks County, to educate the community on various health and wellness needs and concerns, including physical activity, obesity, nutrition and mental health.
Of the 10 initiatives, the department developed Outdoor Berks, a free user-friendly app for smartphones which features 170 parks and trails throughout the county. The app is intended to make it fun and easy for people living, working and visiting Berks County to get out and be active.
"We are known in Berks County for our parks and trails," said Stephanie Kuppersmith, director of community health programs at Reading Health Systems. "And this app is something that hasn't been seen in this area."
Once the app is downloaded on a smartphone, the user can type in an activity, such as hiking, biking or picnicking, or a location. Users can pick from a favorite list of parks and trails that comes with the app or they can create their own list of favorites.
The free app is available to download for Apple and Android phones in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
The fundraising events of Friends of Reading Hospital – held both in the hospital and in the community – include the Road Run in October, which raises funds with entry fees and sponsorship of a 5K and 10K running race. Other fundraisers include a garden party in June and a golf classic in August.