SHU Earns Second Gold Award for Promoting a Healthy Workplace
The Business Council of Fairfield County will recognize Sacred Heart University as a Gold winner for SHU’s successful efforts in promoting a healthy workplace. The award will be presented at the Healthy Workplaces Best Practices Ceremony on February 11, 2011, at 7:45 a.m. The event will be at Stamford Holiday Inn, Stamford, Connecticut.
Sacred Heart University has a total of 1,050 employees, which includes full-time and part-time staff, faculty and adjunct professors. Its Wellness Program was launched in the fall of 2007, by the Human Resource Division, which is led by Robert Hardy. Its goal was to provide employees with an opportunity to improve their health and adopt a healthier lifestyle. This meant more than merely providing a few exercise programs or accessible diet programs. It meant providing employees and their families information on healthy nutrition, providing support groups such as Weight Watchers and various “Lunch and Learns” where employees could receive information regarding stress-reducing practices, exercise programs, and much more. The first two Weight Watchers sessions yielded a total weight loss of 387 pounds among the 30 participants.
The Sacred Heart University Wellness Program has provided healthy nutrition information, pedometers, a walking program and stress-reducing strategies. Wellness fairs have attracted as many as 250 employees. These fairs have included a “Health and Wellness” testing center, which provided the opportunity for an individual to have blood pressure checked, along with cholesterol and body mass index. Female employees, with a doctor’s referral, had the opportunity to have a mammogram performed, as a mobile testing unit was brought onsite to campus. It was at this fair that a mammogram test led to a later diagnosis of breast cancer for one employee, who is now healthy and well.
The fair also provided informational booths manned by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Society, and the American Diabetes Association as well as nursing students, health insurance providers and others.
Classes currently provided are yoga, spinning, zumba and swimming, as well as various “Lunch and Learns,” which continue to provide nutritional advice along with overall healthy living tips. Annually, the Wellness Program provides contests such as the Walking Contest and the 30-Day Fitness Challenge. Contests have been well attended, and the employees continue to ask for more.
Several “Lunch and Learns” offer information on nutrition and exercise, provided by SHU’s own professors of Human Movement and Sports Science. Launched in the summer of 2009, and taught by a professor of Exercise Science, was the University Fitness Center orientation for employees and their families. Participating employees were asked to complete a health questionnaire. The results yielded a tour of the Fitness Center, along with detailed instruction on the benefits of cardiovascular weight training. Participants were given a personalized start-up routine and their progress was monitored.
According to Sally Schettino, the Human Resources special projects coordinator who manages SHU’s wellness programs, “All fitness classes are full, with a wait list for each class. Employees are excited when new programs and contests are launched. Even though 2009 and 2010 were years of economic difficulty, employees looked to the Wellness Programs to provide consistent, uplifting and positive opportunities to cope with day-to-day stressors. We continue to provide opportunities to maintain a healthy mind and body to our employees and their families.”