HEALTHY WORKPLACE: Living Well On The Clock

We spend about a third of our day at work, making it important to live well while on the clock. One metro non-profit is working to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Paul Ivins is getting the garden going at Camp Sunnyside. He says, “I’m also the garden lead. And, I’ve worked with all these clients here, and I try to help them with job skills training and stuff like that, as well as myself.”

Ivins is a client at Easter Seals Iowa. The organization provides services to 3,000 people so they can live, learn and play in the community. President and CEO Sherri Nielsen says, “One of the things we noticed and we started looking at trends that individuals with disabilities typically have a 20 percent higher obesity rate.”

The non-profit leaders wanted to change that. And, the group needed to start with its 240 staff members. Benefits Specialist Allyssa Shouse says, “Today I’m in the office doing scheduling, so I figured why not get on the treadmill desk.”

The organization formed a well-being advisory committee. It meets monthly to come up with ways to increase healthy choices. The group added this walking treadmill desk more than a year ago at a cost of about $1,000. Wellness Coordinator Melanie Asbe says, “A lot of our staff are sitting down a lot, so we thought, let’s give them the opportunity to stand while they’re working.”

You’ll find plants at every desk, employees get a free biometrics screening, and dietitians share nutritious food choices. Nielsen says, “When you have a staff meeting, instead of always having muffins and cinnamon rolls, we are having fruits and nuts as an option, having water available. It’s just little things. They all add up to a healthy living lifestyle.”

The well-being initiatives recently earned Easter Seals Iowa awards, including a Blue Zones worksite designation. It’s the first non-profit in central Iowa to be named one. Only 250 exist around the state. Becky Wampler with Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa says, “Just structuring that environment around their employees so their employees make healthier choices without even really thinking about it.”

The changes are already helping Ivins. This is his third year working in the garden at Camp Sunnyside. He says, “It’s good exercise. It teaches us to get exercise going because we’re also working in a wellness group as well.”

Easter Seals Iowa also promotes health in the community. The clients will sell produce from the garden at eight of the Downtown Farmer’s Markets starting in July.

And, it’s hosting its annual Walk With Me this weekend. The one mile stroll around Lake Cheerio is Saturday, April 26th at Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines. It’s located at 401 N.E. 66th Avenue. The walk starts at 10 a.m. Click here for more on the walk.

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