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Health-Employee Wellness Programs
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Employee Wellness Programs

In the park and recreation profession, employees can serve as great role models for promoting healthy eating and physical activity. However, employee wellness is often not a top priority for agencies. This can be changed with implementation of employee wellness programs. Below are examples of wellness programs from two agencies: Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, and Kannapolis Parks and Recreation.


Kannapolis: Steps to a Healthier You!

Submitted by Gary Mills

This project encouraged employees to become more active by passing out pedometers and tracking their steps on a large map as the walked and/or ran toward Key West, Florida. There were also biweekly mid-day fitness & team building activities to encourage the participants to be healthier. This program targeted the full and part-time employees within the department.

Implementation Timeline: Less than 1 month

Project Implementation: Staff utilized the town's planning department to create a large map with the predetermined walking route on it so that everyone could have a visual display of how far they had walked. They were also able to acquire small mementos to hand out to the participants from several different Convention Visitors Bureaus at locations along the route. They used existing park facilities and local small businesses to facilitate the bi-weekly fitness and team building activities. The group activities included a kickball game, cornhole tournament, and bowling. One roadblock in the implementation was determining how to keep participants interested in the program once they had already reached the main destination of Key West, Florida. The solution was to hand out door prizes at the bi-weekly functions and require that you be in attendance to win the prize.

Lessons Learned: 19 individuals participated, including all 11 full time staff members and 8 part time staff members. Over the course of the seven week program, participants walked 1,996.11 miles for a total of 4,391,433 steps. The only change that was made to the program (after the first week) was lowering the multiplier from 30 miles for 1 actual mile to 15 miles for 1 actual mile. One tip that we would give to other communities would be to invest in good & reliable pedometers; we may also lower the multiplier a little further as well.

Future plans for the project: Staff really enjoyed the program and activities, so there are plans to continue this program and create a map with areas of interest around the country. CVBs along those routes will be contacted for donations as well. Based on the satisfaction that departmental employees received from this program, and the enthusiastic support from the City Manager, the program will likely expand to include all City employees, and possibly the general public in the future.


Garner: Lunch and Learn

Submitted by Stephanie Shaffer


A series of healthy lunches were followed by a health-centered presentation or activity that encouraged staff members to lead the way in making healthier choices for programs and events offered to the public.

Implementation Timeline: 1-3 months

Project Implementation: I called some friends who had resources to help set up programs: WakeMed Wellness, fitness leaders, staff with catering experience. We picked three dates, sent our Save the Date emails to our staff and shared hype about the programs. My WakeMed friend was glad to present a program for us at no charge, and our fitness coordinator scheduled fitness leaders to lead abbreviated classes after our lunches. The catering was more of a challenge because we have some picky eaters. We found restaurants that offered healthy options and asked everyone to give the menu a try. Most folks were happy with our selections and certainly appreciated the efforts that went into planning the events.

Lessons Learned: Staff seemed to really enjoy the programs and activities! Our first program focused on sugars in our beverages, and we are still reading labels and checking sugar content in food and drinks. This could be done in a larger scale at community centers, community events or festivals. Ask wellness-centered agencies to set up information booths and local restaurants or caterers to prepare healthy food stations.

Future plans for the project: I would like to continue this effort with my regular staff meetings. It's a small change, and with a little effort can be a catalyst for larger changes in our department and community.


Next Steps

After implementing an employee wellness program, share it with us, so we can add your advice on this page. Then try one of these ideas:


Resources for employee wellness ideas:

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