Advertisement

New school district wellness coordinator to take questions

May 14, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Tracy Williams, the wellness coordinator for the Lawrence school district, will chat with readers at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday about her new position. The district created the part-time position after receiving funding for three years from its new employee health insurance provider, CIGNA. Williams will work with teachers and staff members on everything from stress management to exercise to nutrition.

Read the Journal-World story about Tracy Williams: <a href="http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/may/13/wellness_coordinator_jumpstarting_new_job/">Wellness coordinator jump-starting new job (05-13-08)</a>

Moderator:

Good afternoon, I'm Journal-World reporter George Diepenbrock. We have two guests in the News Center this afternoon to chat about the Lawrence school district's new wellness coordinator position. Wellness coordinator Tracy Williams and Bob Arevalo, the human resources division director for classified staff, are here with me. Welcome Tracy and Bob.

Tracy Williams:

Thank you for having us. We are excited to be here to discuss the features of our District Wellness Initiative.

Moderator:

First, can you give us a little background about how the wellness coordinator position was established?

Tracy Williams:

This position was established as a result of our agreement with CIGNA, our District's new Health Care provider. One of the compelling features of CIGNA included their committment to wellness. Our district's fringe benefit committee felt that it would be important to have a staff member who would serve to facilitate wellness efforts among approximately 2000 staff members in the Lawrence Public Schools. We feel very fortunate to have this position up and running.

Moderator:

Tracy, what have you been working on since you started? What longer-term goals are you working on?

Tracy Williams:

I have been meeting with the principals at each school site. We feel that this program must be supported from the top down. Therefore, we want to discuss what oppotunites will be effective at each school site. We understand the importance of securing support from our Administrators in all of our schools for our efforts to be successful.
We are currently creating a comprehensive wellness calendar for the 2008-2009 school year. Which will include opportunites for our staff. This includes staff wellness activities and education offered at different district sites. We feel it is important to offer a range of choices to the school district staff.

ChristyLittle:

What are some program specifics you have in mind your first year? What about free screenings?

Tracy Williams:

In August we will host a wellness health fair for all district employess. Vendors from our different health providers along with community resources will be available to discuss the different opportunities. Employee's will have the opportunities to participate in an on-line Health Risk Assessment (HRA) provided by CIGNA. This HRA will serve as valuable information in providing a snapshot view of the wellness of our organization. This data will be used in an evaluative nature for the purpose of creating and designing programs and activites to meet the needs of our employees.
Also, free screenings will be offered at this fair and throughout the school year.

Rustygas:

Do you forsee a possibility of collaboration between local government entities such as the city and county all working together with the school district to promote the collective wellness of their employees?

Tracy Williams:

Absolutely! We already collaborate with the Coordinated School Health Program that has been in existance for the past two-years. The components of this initiative include the following: Physical education, nutrition services, nutrition education and staff wellness. Several members from the community along with reps from different agencies are included on this initiative. It seems very logical that we approach wellness through colloborative efforts throughout the Lawrence community.

Moderator:

Can you talk about the importance of having healthy teachers and staff members working in schools with students?

Tracy Williams:

Teachers and staff are a valuable assest to our community and children. It is extremely important for our teachers to model best practices in regards to wellness. They spend a great deal of time with our 10,000 students for 188 days and they have much influence on our impressonable students. Teaching and learning along with meeting the needs of students is a labor intensive task. Teachers and staff need to be supported in their efforts. Teachers who embrace a healthy lifestyle will be more productive and have fewer absences.

SFBayhawk:

What percentage of "unwell" people has your sort of input turned around?

Tracy Williams:

We don't have this data at this time. The HRA will give us a baseline of our employee's health and wellness.

Moderator:

Those are the questions we have for today. Is there anything else important you would like to say about the position or the wellness initiative in Lawrence public schools?

Tracy Williams:

I am very excited about taking on this opportunity. I hope this initiative helps the school district staff become healthier as well as happier in their work place.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.