With more than 500 insurance-covered staff members from six elementary schools, a middle school, high school, sixth-grade center, facility center and a district office, Quakertown Community School District has a lot of ground to cover.
That’s what makes the teamwork of wellness champions Anita Kaseman, benefits specialist, and Lynne Morgan, instructional coach for K-12, so remarkable. Kaseman and Morgan helm the efforts of inspiring staff members to take advantage of the wellness programs available to them.
Two plus twelve
Morgan and Kaseman have been planning and encouraging wellness programs through the Bucks and Montgomery County Wellness Consortium for about four years.
“We’re a team,” Kaseman says. “We’ve been doing this all along and we work really, really well together.”
The 12-member committee is key to their success. The committee is made up of wellness representatives — individuals acting as the point person for their building. In this capacity the team can communicate with every staff member using strategies that range from building-wide notices to one-on-one discussions.
Tools of the trade
In addition to providing a personal connection to covered members in each building, wellness coordinators also maintain bulletin boards and displays to help keep wellness front and center of staff members’ daily routines.
“Words on Wellness” is a district-wide, electronic, monthly newsletter. Kaseman uses it to provide healthy tips and articles that support the year’s healthy themes, activities and challenges.
The Health Advocate website plays an important role in communications and promotion. Each covered member has access to the website, which houses their own specific confidential information, such as biometric screening results. Members can also check the website to see the leader board on the current wellness challenge. Health Advocate also provides aggregate information that helps Kaseman and Morgan fine-tune their ideas and programs.
“Personal information is protected,” Morgan says. “But we can look at the aggregate and tell if a program is popular and adjust based on what we see. Between this and wellness coordinator feedback, we can decide what to focus on for the year.”
One example of tweaking the programs was in the team’s approach to the step challenge. The step challenge was originally launched as a competition. People were turned off by the name.
“We realized individuals are at different levels of health and fitness,” Kaseman says. “Our goal is to get a person to do more than their current level. This is different than competing to reach 10,000 steps. We changed our approach and participation went up.”
Putting it together
Each year the district hosts two challenges and a biometric screening. Between feedback and reviewing the data over the years, the team decided that the wellness theme for the 2017-’18 academic year would be stress reduction. The year kicked off with all staff members receiving a stress ball printed with “Mind Your Stress, QCSD Wellness”.
Meanwhile, Kaseman put wellness tips related to stress in the September newsletter. One article included a link between stress and sleep. That led to promoting the year’s first challenge: a sleep challenge held in October. There were 53 participants. The sleep challenge results were posted in the November newsletter, which also promoted the second wellness challenge entitled “Holiday Hustle”, which was designed to help people focus on health after holiday indulgences.
All the challenges come with small incentive prizes and a larger raffle prize. The sleep raffle prize was a free massage to help with stress. Participation numbers vary depending on the challenges. A “Choose to Move” challenge in the 2015-16 year attracted 100 staff members.
“What sets us apart is that we don’t do the bare minimum,” Kaseman says. “We use feedback to create something palatable to everyone. You just can’t add something to your activity plate. You must breathe life into it to get people to respond.”
Morgan says that as a team they live what they believe. “We participate in every challenge,” she says. “We and our committee members live a healthy lifestyle. It goes a long way to encouraging others to get on board.”