Congratulations to DeForest Area School District on being one of the first school districts in the nation to receive the Gold School Employee Wellness Program Award sponsored by the Directors of Health Promotion and Education.
According to Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers, in a letter of recognition, “Receiving this award demonstrates that DeForest School District values highly the health and safety of every staff member.”
The school district’s Employee Wellness Program is led by Human Resources Director Vickie Adkins, and a Wellness Committee made up of employees throughout the District. The group has sponsored several health promotion activities the past few years in the areas of weight management, physical activity, stress management, healthy eating and financial wellness.
One program that has taken off the past two years is a “Biggest Loser” contest among staff. According to the district’s food & nutrition services supervisor and contest organizer, Becky Terry, this year over 160 employees participated in the contest. Anytime Fitness, Snap Fitness and Curves generously offered free use of their facilities to those participating in the Biggest Loser competition, as well as prizes for the winners.
The district has also offered exercise classes for staff that fit their schedule, such as resistance training, Zumba, yoga, swimming and kickboxing. Adkins credits the community partners, who have been helpful in providing information and resources. Several volunteered to attend the annual staff Health Fair held in November.
According to Adkins, the wellness program has already shown positive changes for the district. Staff participation in wellness events has increased by 22% from the previous year. This year family medical leaves alone have decreased by 30% over the two previous years for both teachers and support staff. The district’s health insurance premium was also reduced in 2009-2010 by 2.5% from the previous year due to a lower rate of claims.
Adkins said keeping health awareness alive and interesting in the work place is a challenge she embraces. “It’s all worth it when employees contact us to report their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol levels have been significantly reduced as a result of participating in our wellness activities.” She credits the Health and Wellness Committee with establishing an environment that increases health awareness, promotes positive lifestyles and enhances the quality of life for district personnel.
Superintendent Jon Bales couldn’t agree more. “Vickie Adkins, Jean Bystol, Becky Terry and others on the Wellness Committee are to be commended for their efforts in advancing our wellness efforts in the District. It has been a tremendous addition to the working environment for our employees,” said Bales.