Schools incentivize teachers to get healthy

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Suffolk Public Schools has updated their wellness program with new incentives to help continue to encourage a healthy lifestyle for all of the district’s employees.

“We hope it will increase participation in the program,” Director of Human Services Dr. Rodney Brown said during the School Board’s Vision Planning meeting last week.

The district has implemented new challenges, partnerships and improved wellness champions.

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Their four challenges are sleep, exercise, nutrition and a brain teaser, and completing challenges come with incentives for employees.

Employees have the chance to receive a ticket that lets them leave work one hour early, a hoodie, a lunch cooler and a gym bag by being one of the first 200 to register for the program and complete one of the challenges.

The incentives continue to get better as employees complete more challenges, and if employees complete all four challenges, they will be entered to win one of 10 YMCA memberships. The membership will last for one year.

The YMCA’s partnership with Suffolk Public Schools allows for multiple 12-week program options for employees. Three elementary schools will have these YMCA programs — Creekside, Elephant’s Fork and Kilby Shores.

Employees that complete 90 percent of the 12-week programs by May 1, 2019, will be entered to win one of 50 Fitbits.

One of the biggest improvements made to the wellness program is the updates to wellness champions.

In previous years, schools with wellness champions that were active within their school saw the best participation.

“It made a difference, and we are going to be very selective on who we choose at the school,” Brown said.

Wellness champions’ purpose is to communicate with employees at their home schools about programs as well as encourage them to register for the program.

Having at least 30 percent of the home staff participating will result in $1,000 to go towards a building-wide wellness purchase. This could include stationary bikes or a Zumba instructor.

Wellness champions also receive a $100 reward if they complete all the challenges and complete the screenings they offer.

The wellness program allows employees to participate in biometrics and annual physical exams.

A biometric health screening includes height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.

“We have numerous testimonies from people that they didn’t know they were pre-diabetic, and this screening changed their life,” Brown said. “It is helpful on being educated on living well.”