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Your Health is a Gift. Be Proactive and Maintain it!

The Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire (BGCSE) provides developmentally appropriate programs to enable each child to grow intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially while becoming aware of their surroundings and their abilities. BGCSE applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health to focus on the health and wellness of their employees that provide these important services. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is a WorkWell Grant success story written by BGCSE:

The WorkWell Grant allowed us to focus on three public health issues we felt most impacted our staff: mental health, reduction of stress, and obesity. These health issues were addressed through wellness challenges and educational information provided in the Wellness Corner of our staff monthly newsletter and posting health tips for staff and families to see. We varied our activities with both individual and team programs. Exercise and walking challenges were implemented to get people to purposefully think about the food they were eating or the activities they were engaging in. Our wellness program is open to all employees.

One of the biggest challenges was motivation. Getting employees to think about their health prior to a health crisis is difficult. Most employees understand the importance of healthy eating and exercising, but when it comes to putting that action in place, it is difficult to motivate people. To address this we tried to provide a variety of monthly wellness challenges. Our goal was to provide something for everyone, regardless of their level of health or motivation.

An interesting and unexpected outcome was quite a few people said they participated, but did not complete the tracking forms. They didn’t want to be recognized for doing something that they should be doing for their own betterment. Although we can’t track the progress from these individuals, we still consider their participation a step in the right direction.

The positive outcomes from the wellness program were illustrated on both a personal and environmental level. We received several positive comments from the staff regarding the wellness program as a whole and their appreciation of the effort to recognize healthy behaviors. From a facilitation perspective, it appeared that those who benefited most were employees who continually participated each month. They had the intrinsic motivation to make a change for themselves. Positive environmental outcomes were development and implementation of a Cancer and Health Screening Policy for our employees. The policy allows paid time off for these important screenings.

In the future, we plan to continue to utilize the monthly newsletter and personalize the Wellness Corner by highlighting a specific employees’ participation and how it has impacted their life. We will also continue to post health tips in our main locations for staff and families.

Our advice to anyone or any worksite interested in making changes to create a healthier worksite environment, don’t give up! Change is hard and people don’t always like to share their struggles or successes with you. If you impact even one person, then the project was worth it.

“Your health is a gift that most people take for granted. Be proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is much easier to make little steps along the way rather than needing to make drastic changes after a health scare or crisis.”

Vickie Venhuizen, BGCSE Grants Manager