Archive for Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wellness coordinator jump-starting new job

May 13, 2008


Tracy Williams is the Lawrence school district's new staff wellness coordinator. Friday at school district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive, she joined other district employees in a variety of activities and a healthy luncheon.

Tracy Williams is the Lawrence school district's new staff wellness coordinator. Friday at school district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive, she joined other district employees in a variety of activities and a healthy luncheon.

Tracy Williams says in her new job, sometimes people are afraid to eat in front of her.

"I say, 'Hey, I like to have a piece of chocolate every now and again, too, but in moderation,'" said the Lawrence school district's new wellness coordinator.

Williams says in her new part-time position she has a passion for coordinating health and wellness initiatives for other school district employees.

Williams, who has two degrees from Kansas University and coaches the KU women's rugby team, also has her own story. She lost 60 pounds through Weight Watchers more than four years ago.

"I'm not perfect, and I definitely had struggles, and I still struggle," she said.

Based on her own experience, she hopes to connect with teachers and other staff members at helping them develop plans for nutrition, fitness, and stress and health management.

Teachers and the district agreed to switch health insurance providers to CIGNA beginning this school year. The company also offered the district $75,000 for three years to be spent on employee health and wellness initiatives.

The school board approved the part-time position of wellness coordinator at a salary not to exceed $30,000.

Williams was hired in March. She says she knows teachers have stressful jobs, which sometimes might keep them from exercising or following proper nutrition.

"However, if we get folks to engage in these things, we're preventing disease, but also it helps reduce stress, so it would increase work productivity and increase job satisfaction," Williams said.

Williams is also a clinical social worker and has worked as a counselor at Baker University. The aim of the wellness initiative for employees is to make them healthier in an effort to reduce health insurance costs.

Valerie Johnson-Powell, who was a co-chairwoman of the fringe benefits committee, said one incentive for the switch was funding from CIGNA. Committee members believed they needed a part-time staffer to help coordinate the program.

"I think there are so many things that we have the potential to do with all of the community access we have here to awesome wellness programs," said Johnson-Powell, a speech therapist at Sunset Hill and Lawrence High schools.

Administrators say they will be interested in tracking data from this initiative, including whether it reduces employee absences and health insurance claims.

"If it's successful, which hopefully it is, we'll have to make a decision about what our next steps are," said Bob Arevalo, the district's human resources director for classified staff.

Williams is trying to settle into her new role and plan events during the summer and beginning next school year. She also is working on plans to get staff members to fill out a "health risk assessment," a questionnaire about their daily habits to help her determine what kind of events to plan.

She also hopes to work with schools to continue and further develop their wellness efforts for staff members.

"We can definitely set goals for ourselves," she said.


wysiwyg69 9 years, 11 months ago

wilbur;;; do the kids in jr high not have to take a full year of PE or is it not an option. ,,,, big diffrence

quietgirl 9 years, 11 months ago

Um...yeah people please read the complete article before jumping on the negative bandwagon!!We have a Wellness program where I work and it has really helped to bring health and wellness issues to the forefront of our minds. We have classes, seminars and contests. It is still up to the individual to participate but at least we have options to help us feel better, look better and do a better job.

Robert Rauktis 9 years, 11 months ago

The problem with the cookie police is the kids put on weight, in the summer, not in their school segments. The heavy rock (or kid) to be pushed up the hill is the parental influences. Anyone who has ever seen a fat dog or cat sees them attached to a fat owner. Asking the schools to assume another failed parental responsibility is yet another example of overburden of the available resources.By the way, unplugging the TV and the computer at home might be a good start.

WilburM 9 years, 11 months ago

Junior High Kids do not have to take a full year of PE, and we have money for a Wellness coordinator? Please -- kids should be getting physical exercise and activity every day!! And now it's just a part-time, half-year thing at the time they are gaining the most weight and losing the most fitness. That's pathetic.

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

This wellness coordinator is for staff, not students.Typical school board wastefullness: the health insurer offers $75,000 for a three year wellness program, and the Board creates a minimum $90,000 commitment.

MattressMan 9 years, 11 months ago

SF and Wilbur did you read the article before posting? It has nothing to do with the kids but rather the health and wellness of the teachers and staff of the district. The wellness coordinator is a position basically funded by the districts health insurance carrier with the hopes that result in less costly/numerous claims.

supercowbellninja 9 years, 11 months ago

I think this is a great idea - lead by example and many kids will follow suit.

WilburM 9 years, 11 months ago

I'll admit I didn't read the article very closely. That said, the priorities are still way screwed up. Jr high kids do not, as I understand it, have the option of taking 2 terms of PE. And before we focus on "Wellness" of teachers and admin, we should focus on getting every kid in decent shape -- which will have profound effects on their ability to learn.

Take_a_letter_Maria 9 years, 11 months ago

Actually Wilbur they will have that option beginning next year from what I understand.As someone else pointed out earlier, having the teachers and admin staff lead by example (still need to get those parents involved in the libe) will trickle down to benefit the kids. The additional savings in health care costs will benefit both the employees and us taxpayers as well (though to a small extent.)The thing that I really get a chuckle out of is the people advocating over here to get the kids active v the bunch over on the Assist Foundation/Activities Center biotching about spending money on athletic facilities for the youth of Lawrence.

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

The Cigna "grant" sounds more like a bribe than anything else. I hope Sandy Praeger is putting this on her list of investigations.

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

With $75,000, USD 497 could have subsidized memberships at LAC or Body Boutique or Jazzercise or Weight Watchers or the LPRD that would have been a whole lot more effective than establishing an entitlement like a part time wellness coordinator.

vpete69 9 years, 11 months ago

The Liberal's Mission Statement:"I dont know how to live my own life. Please Mr. Government, tell me, wait. Dont tell me how. Do it for me. And that guy over there...he doesn't know any better, hes got that disease we made up, ADD. Its not laziness, its a disorder! I'm sure he wants your help too."

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

Will the school board please explain why, when they received a $75,000 grant for a three year program, they established a part time position paying $30,000 per year?Is that what the extra mill levy was for?

Confrontation 9 years, 11 months ago

"Please - kids should be getting physical exercise and activity every day!!"So, throw away the stupid video games and turn off the TV. Then, your kids can get off their butts after they get home.

Sean Livingstone 9 years, 11 months ago

Send the kids to boot camp, period. Make conscription a national commitment, period. Overweight problem and shortage of soldiers to be shipped overseas, all solved!

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