Baldwin If Baker University faculty and staff members seem more fit and energetic than the typical eight-to-five employee, it's because they are.
Baker's wellness program, started in January 1989, features incentives and programs aimed at helping employees develop a healthier lifestyle.
Kathy Thomas, director of personnel services, said Baker employees who participate in the wellness program receive a discount on their health insurance for exercising 20 to 30 minutes three times a week.
Baker also offers lower premiums for those who pledge not to use tobacco.
"We really have the perfect environment for a wellness program in a university setting with a lot of facilities," she said.
DENNIS WEBER, wellness director, said the university also rewards participants in ways other than insurance discounts. He said organizers held a "team bicycle challenge," awarding a trophy to the team that logged the most miles on a stationary bike over a six-week period.
They also held a self-paced exercise program, asking employees to document their regimen for six weeks. Fifty-five participants were treated by the university to a cookout and Kansas City Royals game.
Many employees take advantage of the lunch hour to play basketball or wallyball at the university's Collins Sport Center, where they also have access to stationary bikes, stairclimbers, a treadmill and other equipment, Weber said. The wellness program offers free aerobics classes for employees and their spouses through a joint effort with the Baldwin Recreation Commission.
THOMAS SAID she's heard plenty of positive feedback from employees.
"I've witnessed the camaraderie and energy of the people who are active over the noon hour," she said, "and I've had people tell me that their afternoon productivity has increased since they started."
Two health fairs, one in the spring and one in the fall, take place at Baker as part of the wellness program, the organizers said. The larger fair, held May 1, affords employees the opportunity to undergo a number of physical exams at little or no cost.
The three-member wellness committee, comprising Weber, Thomas and Ruth Sarna, director of student health services, also circulate a wellness newsletter to spread health-related news.
"We're aiming to communicate more and keep the wellness idea in front of people," said Thomas. "The real challenge is keeping the subject alive."