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Prioritizing employee health

August 31, 2018

Schuyler Community Schools was recently recognized with the 2018 Governor’s Wellness Award for showcasing high rates of employee participation in its wellness program.

“We are very proud,” said Carol Reha, chairman of the Schuyler Community Schools Wellness Warriors, which is a team of 12 dedicated to promoting and encouraging district employees’ health and wellness. “It shows that we have a vital wellness program that we carried out to our employees and to give them good ideas to promote wellness and they’ve been very receptive to it.”

The wellness program at Schuyler Community Schools follows closely to the operations provided by the Educators Health Alliance Wellness Program, which consists of personal health assessments and bimonthly health challenges.

The district achieved 60-percent staff completion of the program’s personal health assessment and is one of 38 Nebraska employers representing 24 communities to be honored for providing evidence-based worksite wellness programs for their employees. It is also one of 18 school districts in Nebraska to receive the award.

“The businesses recognized ... are putting people first and are making the workplace a healthier environment,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a released statement. “Worksite wellness provides an opportunity for Nebraskans to live healthy lives, improve quality of life and help grow a healthier Nebraska for the next generation.”

The triannual Governor’s Wellness Award consists of many tiers and Schuyler Community Schools was dubbed with the Large Company Grower Award, which is a step up from the Large Company Sower Award the district received in September 2015.

“We continue to build on that success by changing our staff’s health behaviors,” Reha said.

Reha said she aims to continue the success of the program in hopes of reaching the new Large Company Harvester Award, which is another step up from the Grower Award.

The district consists of 255 employees. Each employee is a member of EHA Wellness and is encouraged to complete monthly health challenges online, such as Happy Feet, Eye On Health and Record Your Life, which focuses on different aspects of health. Reha said the district has received at least 50-percent employee participation for each challenge.

Reha noted one of the major pushes for participation is the district’s annual Health Fair that takes place in the fall, which is a fun way to promote wellness through various activities like the Turkey Trot and Snowball Roll.

During the fair, staff members and their spouses are able to receive free checkups for blood pressure, pulse, body mass index, as well as a complete blood analysis. They also have the chance to undergo dental plaque and colorectal screening. Each participant receives a personalized wellness report at the end of the fair to share with their physicians.

“We do fun activities promoting camaraderie and wellness,” said Reha, noting the upcoming fair will be taking place in November. “I just feel like we’ve improved it every year until we are happy with what we are offering now … and it has been very popular.”

Members of Wellness Warriors come up with innovative ways to further entice employee participation, such as drawings for prizes and gift cards. Employees who completed the personal health assessment last year received a $25 gift cards from EHA Wellness.

Penny Janousek, a member of the Schuyler Community Schools Wellness Warriors, said the program not only focuses on physical health but also emotional and social well-being. Janousek said employees who prioritize wellness can pass on knowledge to their students in the classroom setting.

“I think it has been proven that a healthy employee is just a happier employee,” Reha said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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