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Developing a healthy workplace

Health department wins Silver Award

Published: Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 1:02 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 1, 2014 1:06 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Bureau/Putnam County Health Department is one of 32 organizations statewide to receive “Illinois Healthy Worksite Designation.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced the 32 organizations were selected for their outstanding worksite health promotion efforts. The Illinois Healthy Worksite Designation was created as part of the statewide We Choose Health Community Transformation Grant, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and overseen by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Sixty-three organizations submitted applications for the Healthy Worksite Designation, with six organizations receiving Gold recognition, 11 receiving Silver designation, and 15 receiving Bronze designation. The Bureau/Putnam County Health Department received the Silver designation.

Diana Rawlings, administrator for the local health department, said the Illinois Healthy Worksite program started locally when the health department received the We Choose Health Grant. The focus was to provide a tool kit for rural communities and businesses to help employees become healthier and happier, which benefits the employee and the employer. The decision was made to try the plan out first at the health department itself, Rawlings said.

“The health department was always looking at ways to improve health in the community, but then we realized we needed to promote health for ourselves,” Rawlings said. “It was a year-long process as the staff found different ways to incorporate many different ways to become healthier into the work day. Some things worked; some things didn’t. There were barriers to overcome. The whole process has been good, building a sense of team with the staff. I think we have developed a very good tool kit for our staff. I’m very proud of this Silver designation and very proud of our staff.”

Health educators Becky Piano and Ben Fogle coordinated the program, developing it as a pilot program for the local health department.

Piano said the health department staff did a variety of things, like implementing a “10 at 10,” which is taking 10 minutes at 10 a.m. each morning to get some exercise, whether walking around the building or doing some stretches. Some of the staff decided to go for bike rides after work. Another idea implemented was the Lunch and Learn program, where a guest speaker was brought into the health department during the lunch hour and talked about different areas of fitness, like stress and bullying in the workplace, self-esteem builders, and ways to develop a healthy lifestyle.

One of the biggest hits of the program has been the establishment of healthy snacks at the health department, with Fogle leading that part of the initiative, Piano said. Also, she and Fogle have sent out encouraging emails to the staff and posted healthy recipes, motivational quotes and fitness tips on the wellness board.

The Healthy Worksite program has definitely helped to develop a more positive atmosphere at the health department, Piano said. This focus on developing a healthier, happier worksite will continue, she added.

The health department is available and eager to work with area schools and businesses to develop their own healthy workplace programs, Piano said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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