Public Health Community Advisory – In September of 2012, the College of Public Health (COPH) established the COPH Wellness Council (WC) in response to the college-wide strategic planning retreat. The WC consists of volunteer faculty, staff, and students who meet monthly to plan and promote wellness activities that are aligned with the COPH mission “to create an environment to promote optimal health and well-being.”
Wellness can be characterized as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Based on these concepts, the WCl provides monthly presentations or events aimed at engaging faculty, staff, and students in making healthy lifestyle choices. In addition to providing wellness opportunities within the COPH, the WC also promotes and encourages COPH members to participate in University of Nebraska Medical Center campus-sponsored wellness events such as the Walking Works Corporate Challenge, Fitness Fridays, the Decathlon, etc.
Recently the WC held the second annual COPH Wellness Fair. Approximately 50 fairgoers visited more than a dozen booths to learn about wellness issues, including hearing health, emergency preparedness, nutrition, smoking cessation, lactation, fitness, herbal supplements, women’s health, the employee assistance program, and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In addition, chair massages, mini-tai chi classes, and blood pressure/blood glucose screenings were also offered. Based on feedback and evaluations, this is a favorite WC event among COPH members.
Other popular events have been Tai-Chi on the Green, March Madness Badminton Tournament, the Annual Chili and Soup Cook-Off, an Apple a Day, Fall Tailgate, and stress reduction for the holidays with alternative medicine and yoga/stress relief. Each event has met one or more of the WC strategic goals set forth in the 2012 strategic plan formulated by COPH members. Success is measured by asking all attendees to complete an evaluation to determine if the events are meeting the expectations of COPH members and fulfilling the goals of the council. In the spring of 2014, the council will be sending out a college-wide survey to determine how the WC may best provide our members opportunities to incorporate wellness while at work.
In addition to the benefits of having monthly wellness events, long-term, sustainable activities have resulted from the WC, such as the lunch-hour walking group and the CSA program designed to promote consumption of locally produced, farm-fresh produce.
The COPH WC believes that a healthy workforce is essential in creating a productive workforce. Having a work environment that reinforces a wellness strategy can keep employees motivated and engaged in the work environment. The WC believes that the COPH can best foster healthy populations and environments by providing opportunities for wellness education and activities as well as modeling wellness behaviors and attitudes within the college.
This article was written by Mary Morris, office associate I in the UNMC COPH Department of Biostatistics, and by Analisa McMillan, MSEd, Instructional Designer in the UNMC COPH.