New Richmond city employees strive for wellnessCity employees are learning to be healthier thanks to the efforts of a eight-member Wellness Committee.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
City employees are learning to be healthier thanks to the efforts of a eight-member Wellness Committee.
The committee was first established in 2005, when a workout room was first installed in the basement of the Civic Center. In order to establish guidelines for the facility’s use, the committee was formed.
Since then, the group has transformed into an organization that promotes various wellness activities that city employees can participate in if they so choose. The committee meets once a month to discuss upcoming plans for events and wellness challenge programs.
“We try to do something every year,” said Beth Thompson, committee chairperson.
In 2011, the committee hosted a series of lunchtime seminars — “Lunch & Wii,” “Lunch & Learn” and “Lunch & Laugh” – to provide employees with recreation opportunities or important information about wellness topics.
The “laugh” portion of the program was aimed at relieving stress in the workplace.
“We’d always focused on people’s physical health, but we wondered about helping people’s mental health,” Thompson said. “We had a comedian come in a couple of times and speak during lunch.”
Other activities the committee has promoted in the past include a weight loss challenge, which involved six teams competing against each other; and a summer golf outing. The committee also schedules annual Health Risk Assessments for employees, which helps identify wellness areas where employees need to focus their attention.
“It’s hard to gauge the success of our efforts,” Thompson admitted. “But a lot of employees participate in some way. We give people options and it’s up to them if they want to take part. It’s really been great.”
For 2012, the committee is joining the Vitality Initiative’s “Lose Weight in 8” challenge, which is being offered by JA Counter and HealthPartners. The competition pits teams from across the community against each other to see which team loses the most weight on average over eight weeks.
Not only will the city teams compete against others in the community, incentives are being offered for a friendly competition among city employee teams too.
“Lunch & Learn” topics for the year include fitness, healthy cooking, cancer prevention and heart disease.
The ultimate goal of the Wellness Committee is to encourage employees to live a healthier lifestyle, Thompson said. If that happens, health insurance premiums likely will decline and taxpayers will benefit in the long run.
“It should lessen the number of claims we have,” said committee secretary Tanya Reigel. “The big things can’t be helped, but there are other things that can be prevented.”
The “Lose Weight in 8” challenge is fast approaching.
For just $15 per person, teams of two to six people will be compete for eight weeks (Jan. 22-March 17) to see who can lose the most weight, on average. The top team will win $1,000 and the top individual loser will get $250.
The challenge is part of New Richmond’s Vitality Initiative, which encourages everyone in the New Richmond School District to take steps to become healthier over the next year. Already 17 teams have committed to the challenge.
Any family, business, organization, church or whomever can sign up and take part. The web site that helps you track your calorie intake and your activity levels is extensive. It can help participants plan meals, find recipes, and so much more.
Go to www.jacounter.com to sign up. Click on “Events” and search for the “Lose Weight in 8” logo. Click on that, pay for your complete team and register their names. You’ll need everyone’s birth dates, email addresses and phone numbers to complete the task.
Then during the week of Jan. 16, everyone will receive an email that will help them get started.
JA Counter and the Vitality Initiative are planning three other wellness activities that everyone can be a part of in 2012. More information on those programs will come at a later date.