RSCE Keeps Fit During Lockdown, One Step at a Time

rsce step challenge 2020 united nations elise aaland yannick van winkel covid19
22 May 2020

RSCE Keeps Fit During Lockdown, One Step at a Time

Yannick Van Winkel

Since the Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) personnel has been working remotely due to the nationally declared lockdown to fight the COVID-19 disease, many staff members are exposed to possible sedentarism. The RSCE Welfare Officer, Elise Aaland, anticipated this health risk of the RSCE community and decided to launch an internal RSCE Step Challenge. A look back on two moving weeks…

Today, 22nd of May 2020, marks two months and two days that the RSCE personnel has been working remotely. The centre closed its physical doors on the 20th of March to minimize the possible spread of the coronavirus among staff members, their family members and the larger community. Nevertheless, the centre’s virtual doors have continued to stay wide open for business and 400+ RSCE staff members have been working rigorously from their own dwellings.

Seeing the fact that everyone’s advised to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid physical contact, life can get rather monotone and inactive, fast. Ms Aaland explains her reasoning for launching the step challenge: “With many of our staff being desk-bound at home, we virtually wanted to re-establish the informal interaction with colleagues and create a feeling of togetherness while keeping physically and mentally fit at the same time. The internal Step Challenge did exactly that. Colleagues teamed up in groups of five and collectively tried to get the minimum step count of 6000 steps per day, per person. The levels of individual dedication and team spirit that we saw, were overwhelming.

It is important to note that participating staff members were encouraged to reach their daily step goal within the confinement of their own house, property or compound, in order to obey to the advice of keeping social interactions with non-family members to a strict minimum.

When asked on how this ‘closeness from afar’ between colleagues was exactly established during the two weeks of the challenge, Ms Aaland replied swiftly and enthusiastically: “Every second day, we announced bonus point challenges that required participation by all team members. It brought the team together around a common task and it added an extra layer of encouragement. A participant put it nicely when she said that it has provided an amazing distraction from the ongoing pandemic with great overall health benefits. For one of the bonus point challenges, we’ve asked participants to video record themselves while they are dancing on Pharrell Williams’ hit ‘Happy’. The response was far beyond expectation!"

A compilation video of all the dance moves was posted on Facebook.

Time for some stats. Fifteen teams of five contestants each signed up for RSCE Stepping Challenge, which totals 75 staff members who kept fit during the two-week period from 29 April to 12 May. Three teams did not miss out on a single occasion to score and managed to reach the maximum of 126 points, closely followed by two teams with 123 points and another two teams with 122 points. One team collectively reached over 1 million steps (1.026.781 steps to be exact) and one individual staff member was able to accomplish a whopping 330.330 steps! Well done to all who participated!


At the end of the two weeks, participants were asked to reflect on the RSCE Step Challenge. Underneath are some constructive testimonials that were shared by colleagues.

Whenever my spirits are low, I am reminded that I am not alone in this challenge. Hence my motivation to cooperate more with the team members, knowing that there are other teams facing the same challenge and aiming for the same goal. – Immaculate Arineitwe

The challenge has kept me in touch with my colleagues during this work-from-home era. Through this challenge, I have been able to sustain both my mental and physical fitness. I have also realized talents and discovered a fun side of my team members of which I knew nothing about before this challenge e.g. we got great dancers!’ – Charles Gathingi

‘Personally, the challenge was an eye-opener. l had been resting on my laurels, yet l discovered that I had it in me. To do at least 6000 steps, every single day!’ – Robert Muwanguzi Mugagga