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Give Your Heart A Break
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In early January Unified School District 428 administration met with GBNEA President, Emily Mulch, and the three school nurses, Cindy Prescott, Linda Johnson, and Millie Hill. The discussion was centered around developing a program that would motivate staff at USD 428 to develop healthier lifestyles.
Through this meeting and several others a plan was designed to have a contest in which teams of four employees could participate in any or all of the following categories: total amount of time exercised, total amount of miles traveled through exercise, or total amount of weight lost.
The following procedures/processes were set up to facilitate the contest:
• E-mails were sent out to all staff encouraging participation.
• A booklet was developed for team members to keep track of each week’s progress.
• E-mail address was set up for members to send their weekly total.
• The school nurses set up a schedule in each building for weekly weigh-ins.
• Each team developed a team name.
• Door prizes were acquired by staff from local businesses so that they could be given out randomly throughout the contest to keep individuals    motivated. The door prizes consisted of
 o Items donated by local businesses
 o Pedometers purchased by district
 o “Big Salads” prepared by USD 428 Central Kitchen.
• A database was built to keep track of weekly team totals.
• District goals were established :
 o Total Weight Loss 428 lbs.
 o Total Hours Exercised 4,028
 o Total Miles Accumulated 4,028
• The Great Bend Recreation Center and Club 1 Fitness setup trial classes for USD 428 staff members.
• At the request of staff members USD 428 opened up the Great Bend Middle School weight room for employees and sponsored an exercise class at the Panther Athletic Center.
The contest began on February 14, on Healthy Heart Day and ended on April 28, 4-28 Day. Fifty-three four-member teams competed in the category for total miles, fifty-six four-member teams competed in the category for total hours exercised, and thirty two four-member teams competed in the category for total weight loss. Teams could compete in all three categories or just one, sixty-three total teams participated.
The district goals accumulative totals for each category were:
• Total Weight Loss: 980 lbs.
• Total Hours Exercised: 8,394
• Total Miles Accumlated : 20,537
What Worked:
• Team names were great. At the beginning of each week a ranking for each category was sent to all members in the district. Teams were identified by their team name and school but not by the individuals in each team. This allowed for friendly competition in the building but did not identify the individuals by name in the last place teams.
• Door prizes worked great. Door prizes motivated individuals to keep turning in their weekly totals and reading e-mails.
• Identifying staff walking routes in each building that totaled a mile.
What Didn’t Work:
• The exercise classes sponsored by the district and keeping the weight room opened at Great Bend Middle School. In theory, this sounded like a good idea. There were many requests for this type of an activity but the issue was timing. It was impossible to schedule a time that
facilitated all of the different schedules of district employees.
Cost to the District:
The total cost to the district was less than $1,300. The cost included the “Big Salads”, pedometer door prizes, district sponsorship of an exercise class, and Polo Shirts for teams who finished in the top six in each category. Since several teams finished in the top in multiple categories, only forty-eight shirts were purchased.
Savings to the District:
It is difficult to estimate the total saving to the district. The district provides an insurance benefit to about 75% of its full time staff. Any initiative that prompts staff members to live healthier or become more fit will benefit the district long term by less employee illness fewer insurance claims.