Daemen On the Move

Daemen College has established an employee wellness program thanks in part to a grant of $49,600, awarded in the Fall of 2005 as part of the Western New York Wellness Works (WNYWW) Initiative, a program that was made possible by a $1 million grant to the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo through State Senator Mary Lou Rath. The goal of the UB initiative was to document the premise that making healthy choices can improve the lives of workers, decrease their need to use health-care services and increase productivity.

The grant dollars awarded to Daemen along with matching support from the College, became the catalyst for change in many aspects of employee health and wellness. Aggregate results of employee Health Risk Appraisals, completed through UB, provided valuable information on the health and wellness of our Daemen employee community. This data was used to identify strengths, as well as needs, and to direct and guide health and wellness programming.

Tapping resources within Daemen, individuals within the college contributed to the administration of the Daemen On the Move employee wellness program, including Margaret Mazzone, PT, MS, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, and Justine Tutuska, MPH, Program Director, Health Care Studies, who administered the grant, coordinated offerings and developed programming. Jeff Sage, Athletic Trainer, implemented employee fitness assessment, individual employee fitness program design, and oversight of the student trainers. Pam Neumann, Personnel Director, has been the liaison with the Daemen employees.

Daemen On the Move has offered a range of programs focused on improving employee health and wellness. Over 180 employees have participated in some aspect of the Daemen On the Move initiative. Programs have been offered on weight management, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular fitness, diet and exercise improvement, and stress reduction and management. For example, personal fitness training was offered by our athletic trainer, Jeff Sage, ATC with support from student trainers, available at midday or immediately prior to or following business hours. Our nutrition education program, implemented by Independent Health, has focused on understanding the many facets of good nutrition and applying that knowledge to make healthy food choices in selecting and preparing appropriate types and amounts for a balanced diet. The lunch time nutrition education sessions also included delicious examples of some healthy choices. Another unique program offered was an exercise program addressing core strength and balance using large therapy balls, also called physioballs. Again taking advantage of the resources on campus, this program was implemented by graduate physical therapy students under the supervision of physical therapist Margaret Mazzone.

The key to employee participation in health and wellness programming is access and convenience, programs such as the nutrition education series, the walking program, fitness training, and the physioball classes were offered or implemented as part of the typical work day, during lunch, breaks and/or before or after work hours. Timing is key, as time is often the biggest barrier to participation. Offering a variety of programs to meet the needs of many different individuals is also important. Programs such as the physioball class and fitness training were tailored to the level of the participants, building confidence in their ability to exercise, which is also a key to employee success in increasing physical activity.

This grant has raised awareness and has begun to change the overall wellness environment at the College. The impact on employee health and wellness will extend well beyond the grant, with establishment a campus Wellness Committee, which will continue efforts in improving our campus health through collaboration across the Daemen community, continuing to identify health and wellness needs, coordinating campus wellness activities and resources, as well as program planning, implementation and assessment.

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